It’s the biggest question. It’s perhaps the only question: Why? It was just last October when the Lakers were celebrating their 17th NBA championship. If Anthony Davis hadn’t tweaked his groin in Game 4 of Los Angeles’s first-round series against the Suns this spring, maybe the Lakers would’ve dispatched the battered Nuggets and Clippers en route to the Finals. That’s not just possible. It’s probable.
Hello everyone, it’s Dan Woike with the latest edition of the Lakers newsletter, my favorite part of the week because I can do or say whatever I want and it won’t get edddittted.
This week’s check-in comes from the road — currently inside a Phoenix hotel room — because NBA games are back. A new set of less-restrictive protocols has life feeling a little more back to normal, and that’s allowed me to get out and have some conversations with different scouts and executives about the Lakers.
In the Lakers loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday evening, there were a lot of glaring disappointments. There were some bright spots to be sure, but the issues were bigger than the sunshine. Sorry for the pun.
‘Melo In Yellow
It won’t show up on ESPN because Carmelo Anthony’s numbers were not remarkable. The numbers would belie how good Anthony looked. He bullied in the post, he still had quickness off the dribble, and he showed how easily one of the best scorers in NBA history can still get a bucket. Just like Uncle Drew said in that Pepsi ad, “I get buckets.” Coach Frank Vogel sang Anthony’s praises.
Lakers forward Trevor Ariza will be out at least two months after undergoing ankle surgery, Los Angeles announced Wednesday.
Ariza, 36, underwent “an arthroscopic debridement procedure performed on his right ankle,” per a team statement. He will be reevaluated by team doctors in eight weeks.
The 2021–22 season marks a return to Los Angeles for Ariza. The UCLA product played for the Lakers in ’07–08 and ’08–09, reaching the Finals twice while winning one championship alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Ariza is a 17-year NBA veteran, logging stints with 10 different franchises.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook have both had themselves pretty successful careers thus far. Despite both careers being at different points and reaching different heights, you can say they’re two of the top players in the NBA. However, with success comes hate and criticism from those who try and pick out the flaws.
If we have learned anything about Montrezl Harrell during his brief time with the Wizards so far, it’s that he is consistent in his demeanor. In press conferences, he speaks fast with a North Carolina drawl, sometimes with so much to say he answers questions that weren’t even asked. And on the court, as he showed in Tuesday night’s preseason opener, he will bring an edge, no matter what.
Even in a preseason game, he was fighting for loose rebounds, making second efforts and expressing shock at a referee’s call. Harrell, it appears, only knows one way to go and that is all-out.
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The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off the biggest surprise move of the offseason in the NBA by acquiring Russell Westbrook. It was a move few saw coming, largely because of his inexact fit alongside superstar LeBron James.
But in a superstar-driven league, the Lakers bet that having three of them in Westbrook, James and Anthony Davis would overcome any on-court fit issues the trio might have. While the preseason has yet to offer any on-court insight into that gamble, Lakers fans are confident in our latest SB Nation Reacts poll that the move will pay off.
For the past couple of seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers’ ace up their sleeve has been downsizing with Anthony Davis at center.
Spacing and versatility are the name of the game in today’s NBA and Davis is uniquely qualified to both defend the rim and out on the perimeter. That kind of ability is incredibly rare for a big man and allows head coach Frank Vogel the opportunity to tailor his lineups depending on who they are playing.
So when the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook, the immediate thought was that Davis would be spending more time at center in order to open up the floor. The star big man himself is expecting to start at the five during the 2021-22 season, but Vogel seems to still have some reservations as he noted some cons of having him there.