Lakers Will Be Hard to Hate with Three Kentucky Favorites in the Lineup

The Lakers have always been one of the more hatable teams in the NBA. Add LeBron James to it and now you have a squad that people not only despise, but actively root against. As a lifelong Celtics fan, the Lakers are my least favorite team by default, but as a lifelong Kentucky fan, it is going to be hard to hate them this season and here’s why:

The team most likely to win the title in the NBA has three of the most beloved Kentucky players of all time on it. Of course, the team that we all wanted to fail has made it very hard to root against them. Rajon Rondo was the best Kentucky player in years at the time he arrived, Demarcus Cousins was an irreplaceable piece in Cal’s first team at UK and Anthony Davis brought the NCAA title back to its rightful home for the first time in 14 years. Truly unforgettable players.

See if you can still hate the Lakers after watching their highlights as Wildcats.

Couldn’t find any Rondo Kentucky highlights without a Creed song in the background so hopefully his Louisville games suffice.

I wrote yesterday about how other NBA teams are jumping on the BBNBA backwagon and I can’t tell if it is because Kentucky players are taking prominent positions in NBA rosters or if there are just so many of them that it is unavoidable having 3-5 Wildcats on a team. Either way, we really should have seen AD and Boogie teaming up with LeBron coming.

Image result for calipari and lebron

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Will Anthony Davis Be Calipari’s First Wildcat to Win an NBA Title?

John Calipari is known for two things in the coaching world: attracting the best recruits to come to Kentucky and then putting those same recruits in the NBA. So far, he has had 38 players drafted, 29 in the first round, 21 in the lottery, and 3 were taken first overall, BUT no NBA Championship rings. Sure, it’s out of his control, but why is that?

Well, one of the biggest reasons is that his best players get drafted too high. Others never live up to their full potential. The ones that can actually make a difference go to the worst teams that get lottery picks for a reason. The dysfunction of upper management and coaching can ruin even the best players. It’s hard to make the best of a bad situation when it takes 3 All-stars or perfectly timed injuries to win a championship anymore (nothing against the Raptors, health is an important part of a championship team).

But Coach Cal’s NBA Title woes may be coming to an end as early as next season. As part of the Lakers’ “oh my God, LeBron is older than we realized, we need to win now” initiative, they just traded away 95% of their future for Kentucky’s own Anthony Davis. Love or hate the Lakers, you have to be happy that AD now has the best chance at winning a title since 2012.

In fact, the Lakers are now the favorite to win the World Championship next season.

Many of Calipari’s Kentucky players have tried to win a championship, and some have come close, but all have failed. Boogie Cousins was the closest, but a plethora of injuries crippled his Golden State Warriors. Josh Harrellson was actually on the Miami Heat roster that won the title in 2011. But he did not meet the Heat’s minimum games played threshold to receive title recognition.

Hopefully, this year is the year. The LeBron and AD combo should be good enough to make a deep run in the Western Conference Playoffs, but they need just one more piece to ensure that Calipari finally gets his champion.

For more Kentucky opinions and news, follow us on twitter @soft7sports.

BBNBA Offseason Latest

By now, we have all seen the Woj bomb that Anthony Davis is heading off the Los Angeles Lakers. Full details here. The move did not really take anyone by surprise. It was long overdue and frankly, it is the best move for the NBA as a whole. Love or hate the Lakers, at least be happy that AD now has the best chance to win a championship since he left Kentucky.

Anthony Davis is not the only member of BBNBA who is making a move this offseason. Julius Randle has exercised his player option and is looking away from New Orleans. And Boogie Cousins is becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Julius Randle
Last season with the Pelicans, Randle averaged 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists in absence of Anthony Davis. Pretty solid stat line considering what he had to work with. According to Shams, Randle has decided to opt out of the last year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent. Basically, Julius Randle is about to get PAID. The only rumors that have come out so far is that he would be interested in joining the Suns, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of weight behind it. Due to the recency of the news, it may be a couple days before more teams come forward.

Follow us @Soft7sports for updates on all BBNBA free agents as the summer goes along.

The Pelicans just traded Anthony Davis for just about every asset the Lakers had not named LeBron James or Kyle Kuzma. So just about everyone that Randle has already played with. Probably knows that the $9 million he was owed next season won’t be worth it. Even with Zion and the #4 overall pick.

Demarcus Cousins
Demarcus Cousins has become an unrestricted free agent. After being plagued by injuries last season, Boogie decided to take a year in Golden State to recuperate and win a title. And well, neither happened. He reinjured his calf and missed more games than expected. Also, injuries to his teammates kept him from being the first Kentucky-Calipari player to get a ring.

There are really only a couple landing spots for Boogie this offseason. After a sneaky impressive 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds, Warriors could use him especially since Klay Thompson will miss some of the season and Kevin Durant will either be out all year or in another city altogether. But right now, it looks like he will be moving on. Especially after this tweet:

The top teams looking to sign Boogie are the Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks, Spurs and Bucks. Some are more longshots than others, but all are possibilities. However, if the market for Cousins stagnates again, he could very well stay put in Golden State.

Rich Paul’s Never Ending Quest to Team Up AD and LeBron May Involve Boston

As a part of LeBron James and Rich Paul’s never ending quest to get Anthony Davis to the Lakers, Rich Paul said today that if AD were to go to the Celtics, it would only be for a one year rental.

According to ESPN’s Woj, the Lakers and Celtics are negotiating trade packages to acquire Davis before the NBA Draft. The Lakers can make a pretty good offer. They have the number four overall pick and seem dead set on getting rid of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. Also, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports is Anthony Davis’ agent and personal friend of LeBron James. Best believe that he will do everything he can to get Davis to LA.

Meanwhile, the Celtics are once again leading the league in trade assets. They are stacked with future stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown; not to mention they also have three first round picks in this year’s Draft. Even though it is beginning to look like a longshot that Boston will land Davis, it could be their last hope in keeping Kyrie Irving. The future of Irving with the Celtics is unlikely now that he has opted out of his contract, but it is still possible. I know the fans don’t want Kyrie anywhere near Beantown, but since Kevin Durant’s injury, Uncle Drew may have to put his plans on hold.

So, if trade talks fall apart between the Lakers and Pelicans yet again, AD may be, like the Dropkick Murphys, shipping up to Boston. But like mentioned before by his agent Rich Paul, only for a year.

And as a Celtics fan… I’LL TAKE IT.

Anthony Davis for any amount of time would be amazing. Don’t act for a second like having a top 10 player in the world wouldn’t make a difference. Look at what Kawhi did signing a one year deal with the Raptors. And he may even re-sign. Davis may come to Boston and love it and want to then sign a long term deal to play with Tatum and Brown. He could even entice Kyrie to stay. And I guarantee that Kyrie’s hero ball nonsense will change real quick once he realizes his isn’t the best player in green and white. Don’t give up hope just yet. The Celtics could form the quietest super team of all time even if it is for just one season.

Pels Are Taking AD Calls

As we all slightly expected, the Pelicans could not convince AD to stay. We all wanted to see what a potential AD, Zion, and Jrue lineup could do, but alas, it was not meant to be. What does this mean for us casual NBA fans and stans out there, especially since this trade has monumental implications? Everyone knows that every team is calling with their AD offer, since many would be crazy to not attempt to trade for him. The Clippers, Jazz, Kings, Rockets, Mavericks, and Thunder have shown interest in acquiring the best center in the league. They’ve been reluctant in pulling the trigger on mortgaging their future on him, and are not the headlines of the “trade for AD crowd”. Those, of course, are still the Lakers, the Knicks, and the Celtics.

As some of you may or may not have heard, reports are coming out that LeBron has told the Lakers that if they strike out in free agency, and do not land him another star to play with, then he will demand a trade. This could spell the end of LABron and the Lakers hopes as a title-contending franchise. The Lakers will undoubtedly go all in on the AD trade sweepstakes, and offer everything under the sun in order to get him. Issue is, will Ball, Hart, Ingram, Kuzma, the 4th pick, and future other picks be able to seal the deal? It would give them a lineup to put around Zion at center, and they could draft someone like Garland, White, Hunter, or Culver with the 4th pick. Very good proposition, and then gives them the ability to trade Jrue to a team that is desperately needing either an upgrade at point guard or a non-garbage point guard.

However, will the Pels be interested in just that bag of trash? The Knicks, for instance, can offer a lot more and better assets than the Lakers. I would much rather take DSJ, Ntilikina, Trier, Knox, Hezonja, Robinson, the 3rd pick, and future draft picks. The Pels, with this trade, could then immediately trade Jrue since they have 3 capable ball-handlers. They would have a backup center behind Zion, or have the center on the court with Zion and go big. The 3rd pick puts them in prime RJ Barrett range, and that would give them another hyper-athletic wing-guard hybrid. He’s even Zion’s college teammate, so chemistry would not be heinous. They would and could easily unthrone the Kings as the most exciting and promising young team in the league.

Unfortunately for the previously mentioned teams, no one can beat Danny Ainge and his “Godfather” offer he will undoubtedly make. Danny Ainge has hoarded so many assets that he legitimately could have a three part special on the TV show Hoarders. Possessing the 14th, 20th, 22nd, and a few second round picks in the draft, these are considered the weakest of his pool of resources. He has a collection of players that many around the league view as the best young collection. Tatum, Brown, and Rozier are the stars of the bunch, but Yabusele, Williams, and Ojeleye are considered hidden gems by many. If the Pels wanted higher picks, Ainge could easily leverage one from a different team with all of his resources. Suns, Bulls, and Wizards might take the 20th and 22nd for their respective picks. Again, no one can compete with Ainge and his pool. However, their pool definitely seems less stupendous now, seeing as all save Brown regressed this year. The picks are also less than stellar, so who knows. The Celtics did not pass the eye test to me this year, and I can only help but wonder if other teams noticed that as well.

This trade is monumental for the league, seeing as this is still in the open bidding process. We have dealt with this drama all season, and are no closer to knowing where he will land as we were at the start. I can only hope this gets resolved quickly, seeing as many (myself included) are beginning to tire of this narrative.

If Boston Can’t Keep Kyrie, Then I.T. May Be Time for a Homecoming

For the entire year of 2019, Kyrie Irving has been playing basketball, the media and with all of our hearts. Let’s face it, we will never know how he truly feels about Boston until the offseason and he either re-signs or explores other options.

A very underwhelming Playoff performance has left many Celtics fans with an indifferent opinion of Kyrie. After shooting 8/22 in Game 3 of the Bucks series, he promised that he would never shoot 8/22 ever again. Kyrie is a lot of things, but a liar is not one of them. The next two games he shot 7/22 and 6/21. Worse, but technically living up to his promise. Regardless of how the season ended, he is still a top 3 point guard in the league and we should want a superstar like Uncle Drew back. But, if he decided not to re-sign, these are two options that should keep everyone happy.

If you couldn’t tell from my ever so clever headline, Isaiah Thomas would be an excellent player to fill in the point guard vacancy. I.T. is the epitome of a player that can thrive in the Brad Stevens coaching system. He’s a proven winner and now that LeBron is out of the East, he can lead Boston to the title series. On top of how great of a player he was in Boston, he won every Celtics fans’ heart. Being under 6 foot and still balling out, dropping 28.9 points per game, and of course, the game he played for his sister that brought us all to tears. There is not a single Boston fan that wouldn’t want him back in the green and white.

While we are on the subject of homecomings, Rondo would also be a great addition if we were to lose Terry Rozier. I know “Danny won’t trade me”, but that doesn’t mean he won’t walk away in free agency. Rondo is timeless. During the 2018 championship run, he was a triple-double MACHINE. He’s a champion that would really help a young team with 3 new first round draft picks navigate the Playoffs. He could come off the bench and still contribute his classic Rondo stat line of 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 22 assists.

Image result for rondo celtics

The best case scenario for this offseason would be to have a great Draft and hopefully re-sign Kyrie and convince Anthony Davis to join him. But, if that doesn’t work out, I would happily take I.T. or Rondo as a replacement.

Possible AD Trades Pre-Finals

In light of the Pels getting the #1 overall pick in the lottery, I highly doubt that we will see AD get traded this offseason. Dan Gilbert, the new GM of the Pelicans, said he will be adopting the same approach that the Thunder took with Paul George, and get on his knees to beg AD to stay work his hardest to convince AD that New Orleans is the place to be. After all, the proposed Jrue, Zion, and AD big 3 is a pretty tantalizing one if I have to be honest. Could play out a bit of the season, see how it goes, then trade him. His value will still be through the roof, and you have a chance to have a decent team.

However, AD and his representation are still adamant that AD not only wants a trade, but he wants to be gone sooner rather than later. With that impasse in mind, let’s dive into a couple previews of the 5 best packages (lol) that teams can offer the Pels.

1) Boston Celtics

Pictured (left to right): All-Star PF/C Anthony Davis, All-Star PG and Choker Kyrie Irving, and pile of trash SF Jayson Tatum

“He who has the most assets has the most power.” – Danny Ainge (probably)

Despite the apparent issues with the team dynamics, the horrible on court play, and the regression by everyone on the team except 4 players, they can still give the Pelicans the best package. Even though Jayson Tatum may no longer be viewed as better than Kevin Knox and Brandon Ingram by leaps and bounds, he is still the best wing that can be offered by the Celtics, Knicks, or Lakers. Tie in the fact that the Celtics can afford to give up other picks AND mortgage their future on AD, that is so much better for a Pels team looking to rebuild. Sure, waiting til February does eliminate the three picks in this draft the Celtics can offer. However, the three picks this year are the 14th, 20th, and 21st. Don’t know if Rozier, Tatum, those 3 picks, and maybe more picks will get a trade done, but I can guarantee that Danny Ainge will be willing to go all in on a Godfather offer.

2) Houston Rockets

Pictured: the replacement for the heap of garbage Clint Capela turned out to be, All-Star PF/C Anthony Davis

The only way this trade happens is if the Rockets are willing to part with Capela and every draft pick that they can trade. Clint Capela couldn’t stay on the court at all this season, and he did not look like he deserved that enormous contract he was given in the offseason. With the upgrade of AD in the post over Capela, the pick-and-pop game with Harden and pick-and-roll game with CP3 will shred every team in the West. A Durant-less Warriors will lose the West easy, and a super team of CP3, Harden, Gordon, House, and AD will be able to shoot the lights out AND smother opponents on the defensive end. This is an underdog trade I would love to see happen since this can provide the balance the Pelicans are looking for between rebuild and contender.

3) Los Angeles Clippers

Pictured: the bomb-dropper himself Woj (left) discussing AD (right)

The Clippers intrigue me the most out of possible teams that can acquire AD. Possessing the vital 2021 unprotected Miami pick, I see it hard for the Pels to decline this trade. The Clips front office can come out the gates with Danilo Gallinari, Jerome Robinson, the 2021 pick, and two more firsts. Maybe they add another first and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the trade, but I believe that should be it. I also think this is one of the best lineups that can be given to Zion. He can grow with SGA and Jerome, and have the veteran presence of Jrue and Danilo. SGA, Jrue, Jerome, Danilo, Zion, and Randle are not bad of a rotating 6, and they will have money to pursue a center and a wing this offseason to pair with E’twuan Moore off the bench. This can help jumpstart the rebuild AND give them a ton of picks to use in the future. Definitely an interesting package coming from the LA team that doesn’t have a horrible color combination.

4) Los Angeles Lakers

Pictured: LeBron’s next teammate

Yes, now on to the LA team with the horrible color combo, horrible front office, horrible owner, and horrible package. Does the fact the Lakers’ below-average package stem from the fact they can’t draft or couldn’t sign good players last season?

…is it okay to say it’s both?

Lonzo, Hart, Ingram, and Kuzma are a lot of pieces, yes. Again, them with Zion at center would not be a horrible lineup to have to start a rebuild. Sure, the Pels can also name the number of draft picks they want and the Lakers will add another one on top just to be safe. The biggest issue facing this deal isn’t the fact the Pels owner Gayle Benson refuses to trade with the Lakers. At the end of the day, I hope she will do what is best for her team. However, the biggest issue is that the offered players, the 4th overall pick, and other first rounders just don’t do it for me. The Rockets and Clippers offers are better, and they aren’t as desperate as the Knicks or Celtics. The package is the worst because the organization let it be the worst. The best player in the deal is either Ingram, who had a season ending TOS surgery, or Kuzma, who can’t play defense. It’s pretty tough to justify trading for two cripples, a guy that can’t play d, and a deep bench player. Hence why the Lakers easily have the saddest package of the bunch.

5) New York Knicks

Pictured: the Knicks’ new Lord and Savior, All-Star PF/C Anthony Davis

Not gona lie, this Knicks odds are severely shot right now. The potential of their package being selected hinges on whether or not David Griffin, GM of the Pels, would like RJ Barrett at the #3 pick or would rather take someone else later one. I will be releasing an article later detailing to all the Knick trolls out there about why the Knicks’ package sucks, but it is not because of the picks. The Mavs picks and their own picks provide a draft asset pool just as deep as Danny Ainge and the Celtics own. However, the players they would receive are just as “meh” as the Lakers’ offer. Right now, the Knicks cannot make their Godfather offer until June 29th, but it would consist of 4 first round picks (the 3rd, another one of their own, and the two Mavs picks), Frank Ntilikina, Mario Hezonja, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, and Allonzo Trier, and Dennis Smith, Jr. Yes, this offer is big. And yes, it has a lot of offensive firepower in the deal, and Mitchell Robinson plus Zion could put a veritable lid on the goal. However, the assets are poor. While I do prefer DSJ over Lonzo as any sane person should, I do not think the Knicks offer in terms of player quality is better than any offer any other team could make. The quality of the picks is why the Knicks are even still being talked about as a trade destination, and no other reason. Get of the Kevin Knox hype train, he’s got more bricks in his arsenal than Fort Knox’s vaults.

Wait, is that a possible new nickname for Kevin Knox? Wow, who woulda thought it’d take talking about how the Knicks’ package is something to be laughed at to give a new nickname to an overhyped rookie.