Can the Lakers Not Suck? Should I be GM?

How to Rebuild the Lakers

MagicShaqKobe

I am a rabid NBA fan. I may be even more rabid of a Lakers fan. I constantly like to make up fake trades and directions that teams may take. So, naturally, I like to do this exercise with my favorite team. I don’t want my team to suck, but I also don’t want to mortgage our possible future on free agents like Luol Deng (old and has played a million minutes) or Lance Stephenson (may very well kill someone on the court).   The goal of this is to create a legitimate and creative way to be good right now and to be even better in the future. If anyone of importance in the NBA is reading this, yes, I will come work for your team. I can turn any team around! Here we go.

The Current State of Affairs

Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Ryan Kelly, Julius Randle, Robert Sacre, and Jordan Clarkson. This is what the Lakers roster looks like. Steve Nash is a walking corpse, Kobe is coming off of a major injury, Ryan Kelly looks like an 8th man in your rotation, Julius Randle may actually be a gem, Robert Sacre should never step onto a court, and Jordan Clarkson could be Kelly Clarkson’s brother for all I know.   The team isn’t very good right now. So, how do you turn this team into something? Luckily, Lakers do have pieces and cap room. The key is not signing any long term players at this point unless he is absolutely going to be a major part of your future.

140308-UKMBB-Florida-MattPendleton-120

First Move

Trade Pau Gasol in a sign and trade. The Bulls are wanting Pau Gasol in a bad way. So lets give him to them! However, the big Spaniard comes with a price. The Bulls cannot sign Pau outright and are too cheap of a franchise to amnesty Boozer to sign Pau. So lets just spark a deal that makes everyone happy. Sign Pau to something like 3 years/$30 million or 4 years/$36 million, then trade him to the Bulls for Boozer. Obviously, the Lakers can’t (and shouldn’t) do this without something make it worth their while. The Bulls need Pau. He would make a stagnant offense go and him and Noah would simply put on passing clinics and create almost endless open looks for other players, so they need him. They want to get rid of Boozer, and clearing him to get Pau in a sign and trade is a kind gesture by the Lakers. So in order to make this happen, the Bulls would either throw in a 1st rounder this year or Mirotic, the best player in Europe. A 1st rounder is more likely, so lets just go with that.

Carlos Boozer

Next Move

The starting line up now looks like this:   Nash Bryant FA SF Randle Boozer   This still isn’t that great, but we are getting somewhere. The Lakers now have 3 things with the Pau trade: 1)Boozer and Nash will come off the books for a combined $26 million for 2015-16. That is a max contract. 2) Randle is allowed to be featured even more, since he will be the most skilled big man, allowing the Lakers to show him off for a potential trade or keep him to be an anchor. 3) A 1st rounder in an even more loaded draft than this years.   So, what do we do now? Sign your next piece going forward. That piece is Gordon Hayward. I know that unless you are a basketball purist, you probably don’t know how good he is. Hayward is not a 1st or 2nd banana, but he would absolutely be the best 3rd banana in the league. He can score off ball, he rebounds great for his position, he is a great defender, and most importantly he is someone who can pass at an elite level for his position. Put is this way, if Hayward played for the Spurs and not the Jazz, people would be talking about him as the best young player in the game.   Throw the full max at Hayward (starts at $17 million) and dare the Jazz to match. They most likely won’t because Hayward doesn’t deserve the max. He is more a 10-12 million dollar player. Giving him a contract at almost 33% higher than his market value seems foolish, but this is what must happen.

Gordon Hayward #utahjazz

What Now?

Things are starting to look a little better. The Lakers should re-sign Jordan Hill on a one year deal with a good chunk of remaining salary (around $13 before luxury tax, so lets say 1 year/$9 million). The line up SHOULD look something like this:   Nash Bryant Hayward Randle HIll   6th man: Boozer   This team could absolutely contend for the playoffs. Lets assume Kobe can be 85% of what he was. That is still a 21/5/5 player. This starting line up could be very dangerous, due to the fact that 4 out of the 5 positions contain elite level passing. The Kobe/Hill pick and roll was an especially dangerous play a few years ago when Kobe became the main point guard. Another great thing about the starting line up is that Randle, Hill, and Hayward are all going to be great rebounders for their positions. The Lakers would have 2 elite team skills, rebounding and passing. It also does not hurt that Kobe is an all time great shot creator, something so many teams lack. Boozer coming off of the bench is an especially good thing. Boozer is productive, but is a black hole. Having him being the sole scorer off of the bench would allow him to get his touches and produce without holding the skills of the starting 5 back.

2015-16

The 2014-15 Lakers could make the playoffs as an 8th seed, even 5th, but they won’t win a championship. But this is ok. It is about contending and allowing yourself room to get better. 2015-16 is where all of this could really turn around. With Nash and Boozer off of the books, the Lakers should be flush with cash again. The Lakers SHOULD only have Bryant, Hayward, and Randle on the books. That would set them at roughly $50 with a projected $71 million dollar cap. This is where it could get fun. The Lakers should have their eyes on two main targets, and I will describe what the route would be for each.

Goran Dragic

Guys, Goran Dragic is secretly a top 5 point guard and will surely opt out of his contract that will only pay him 7.5 million. He is in line for a big payday. With $21 million in cap space, the Lakers could absolutely offer something to the tune of 4 years/$55 million. This would leave around $7 million more dollars to sign an extra very good role player, or divvy that up to strengthen the bench. This scenario could potentially be amazing. And best of all, Lakers can sign him outright without giving up talent.   Dragic Bryant Hayward Randle Hill (resign at a lower rate because of the previous inflated 1 year deal)   That is the best back court in the league with a high rebounding front court. With the 3 or 4 solid role players the Lakers could grab via the leftover salary, this could be a lethal team that could absolutely contend for a championship if the role players are chosen correctly. And lets not forget, the Lakers could flip that 1st round pick from the Bulls (The Lakers 1st round pick is jettisoned to Phoenix thanks to the Steve Nash trade) to dangle in a trade for a player of note.   Probably the most flexible option because it allows you to address to point guard position and upgrade the bench. However, the next is the superstar option:

Goran Dragic carries big balls

Kevin Love

Kevin Love does not want to come to the Lakers as currently constructed. But with Bryant, Hayward, and a trade chip in Randle? Yes. Yes he does. Again, the Lakers could outright sign him and not need to give up talent, but the Lakers will and should.   Here is how it will go: the hope is that Randle is clearly showing signs of progress. If nothing else, Randle will rebound in the NBA at a good to great level. However, Love plays the same position and Randle cannot play with Love. Trade time! The Lakers can offer up Randle to acquire a rim protecting big man. A prime target I am looking at is Omer Asik. Omer Asik is one of the 3 best defensive centers in the league and also happens to be a very good passer. By this time, Asik will be 30 and making something like $10 million. This fits in a trade because the Lakers will be under the luxury line, allowing them to go over the cap in trades. So, you can sign love to a contract starting at $20 million, and then flip Randle for Asik (no matter where he is, team love young scoring and rebounding big men). At this point, you are capped out, with nothing but minimum contracts to hand out, but it is ok because here is the starting 5:   FA point guard (honestly doesn’t even matter) Bryant Hayward Love Asik   That, ladies and gentleman, is a team that is going to give you nightmares. The passing on the floor would be ungaurdable, and you now have 2 elite shot creators. This is what gives coaches gray hairs. Asik and Hayward would be an amazing front and back line defensive wall, allowing Kobe to gamble and Love to gamble passing lanes (which they both do well).   What is probably even better about this scenario is that Kobe comes off the books for 2016-17 season. $25 million coming off of the books just in time for Durant to hit free agency. A Durant, Hayward, Love combo would absolutely contend for years, but that is an article for another time.

Kevin Love

Your Decision

If it were up to me, I would lean for the Love option. Top 3 player in the league and someone who is just going to make your ceiling higher. Although the Dragic route allows more options for the bench and role players, it doesn’t give you quite the superstar power that Love has.   So, will this happen? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t run the team (I probably should). But if the Lakers have any sense and want to keep the winning culture going, they must absolutely consider these moves. These are both realistic options but require a little luck (Jazz not matching, Love not being traded and signing long term, Randle realizing his potential), but everything in the NBA requires luck. It is now up to the Lakers to put themselves in a position to make their own luck.

8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better

In wake of the Georgia Toddler Carseat trial, there have been millions of people coming out of the woodwork as perfect human beings similar to Jesus Christ, Chuck Norris, and USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard.  But as someone who recognizes his own fallibility, I wanted to help bring reality back into the forefront.  So without further ado, here is the 8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better.

1. Not Buckling Themselves or Their Children – Sure I could easily start a debate on the misguided love of rushing to put a baby into a forward-facing carseat, but I wanted to focus on something even more mind-blowingly crazy.

  • According to the CDC, 33% of children who died in a crash in 2011 were NOT BUCKLED UP at all! But I cannot blame the children…
  • Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unrestrained.

2. Driving While InTEXTicated – Did you know that texting while driving makes crashes 23 times more likely than if you were driving undistracted? But did you also know this?

  • 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.  And 55% say that it is easy to text while driving.  But they come by it honest…
  • 48% of CHILDREN have been in a car while the ADULT DRIVER WAS TEXTING.

3. Self-Inflicted Workplace Accidents – Research shows that over 99% of all accidents are preventable.  Most accidents are because of hubris, impatience, and negligence.  I could not sum it better than this quote from Brad Miles:

  • “We don’t work in a dangerous environment. We work in a hazardous environment that we make dangerous by not following safe work procedures and wearing our PPE.”

4. Pre-marital Sex,  STIs, and Pregnancy – It is no secret that pre-marital sex is the overwhelming cause for sharing harmful Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, herpes, and HIV.  It is also the leading cause of out-of-wedlock pregnancies (“virgin births” is the other cause).

  • According to the CDC, there are 20 MILLION new cases of STIs in the United States each year, costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 BILLION in unnecessary preventable direct medical costs.  But we cannot blame this on current young adults, they come by it honest…
  • Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91% had had premarital sex by age 30.  Currently, 95% of men and women have had pre-marital sex by age 30.  This isn’t surprising as the median age of first marriage has risen to approximately 30 years old.
  • CDC data indicates that 40.7% of all 2012 births were out-of-wedlock.  This prevalency is much higher in people groups that are struggling economically, educationally, and criminally.  Common knowledge also says these unwanted pregnancies lead to abo…

5. Illegal Drug Use  – Almost 10% of individuals 12 years old or older are using illegal drugs (CDC 2012).  This is done despite the high health risks and despite the lowered chances of receiving/maintaining employment.

6. Consumer Debt “Playing with Fire” – The majority of Americans are weighed down by consumer debt (i.e. student loans, credit cards, car loans, etc).  Yet laughably, people will walk right into a lion’s den and believe they can outsmart the world-class businesses  and lending institutions trained to prey on consumers.  For example, you WILL spend more if you use credit cards.  Businesses know this.  As a result, even by paying the debt bills on time, you ARE NOT beating the system!  The system is beating you!

7.  Ignoring Infant Sleep Safety – Despite the existence of compelling research and statistics about the importance of safe sleep in reducing our nation’s high rate of infant mortality, the number of babies who die in adult beds and other unsafe sleep environments is on the rise.

  • There are 4500 sudden, unexpected infant deaths each year.  Statistics show that as many as 80-90% are the result of unsafe sleep practices. These are preventable deaths.
  • For example, bumpers pads and pillows should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that these extra items prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.

8.  Dropping Out of High School – Dropping out of high school is a choice.  A choice that anyone with half a brain knows is negative and dangerous.  Want proof? In the United States, high school dropouts commit about 75% of crimes.  Using deductive reasoning, you can probably guess that this means that the majority of men and women actually in prison are high school dropouts too.  But these aren’t the only bad things…

  • A high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his lifetime.
  • The death rate for those with fewer than 12 years of education is 2.5 times higher than the rate of those with 13 or more years of education.

What do you think? Can you name other boneheaded acts that could be added to this list?

Safety

What NOT to do on Independence Day: A Transformers 4 Review

Ahh Independence Day, that great American Holiday sponsored by Bud Light and Kingsford charcoal is upon us once more. Between barbecuing, swimming at the lake, and drinking, a lot of us will often find ourselves at our local movie theatre to see our favorite actor save the world from whatever supernatural species is hot this year. 2014 is no different and we have been blessed (burdened) with yet another Transformers movie from the orange-filter, low angle king himself, Michael Bay.

Michael Bay and the gang have decided to reboot within the currently established timeline and swaps out the screaming, panting Shia Labeouf for the angry, panting Mark Wahlberg as inventor, Cade Yeager in “Transfomers 4: Age of Extinction.” After three movies of Autobot victories and what appears to be a vanquished Decepticon threat, Bay and writer Ehren Kruger have created a villain out of Frasier—ahem—Kelsey Grammer as he tries his best to do a Ron Perlman as Hellboy sans makeup impression throughout the movie. Grammer’s character, Harold Attinger, runs a black-ops mission under the umbrella of the CIA known as “Cemetery Wind” and is charged with eliminating the Autobots as America no longer needs aliens to fight its battles. But wait, Bay has obviously grown tired of only one villain and has Attinger using an interstellar bounty hunter with similar Autobot physiology to help kill the Autobots. You read that right, America hates alien robots and enlists alien robots to eliminate other alien robots. ‘Merricuh. The double villain strategy works in “Transformers 4” about as well as it did in Sam Raimi’s “Spiderman 3”… or Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spiderman 2.” (Hollywood, just look at any Spiderman film to see if more than one villain per movie is overkill) Grammer’s Attinger is in business with Stanley Tucci portraying Michael Bay’s version of Steve Jobs as CEO Joshua Joyce, whose company is making its own Transformers for the government. Nonsense ensues after Wahlberg finds Optimus Prime, blah blah blah… explosions…corny jokes…crazy angles. Then the movie ends. No it doesn’t. After sitting there for what feels like two days and what should be a movie reaching its conclusion, Bay decides to take the rest of the movie to Hong Kong to appease the future juggernaut of world cinema, China.

I left out plot twists and cliffhangers for those who still want to see the movie, but I assure you that “Transformers 4” is the loudest, and most exhausting movie that I have ever seen. I walked into the theatre with my large Frostee and small popcorn, confident that I could handle the 2 hour and 45 minute run time. Nope, I was out of my league, I felt like the boy in this YouTube clip on the Sling Shot Ride when the film crossed the 2 hour mark.

Like that little boy I was sure I could handle it but after two hours of explosions, screams, terrible plot and character development, I found myself slipping in my movie seat softly whispering Janice, Janice…

A summer blockbuster with a 2 hour and 45 minute run time should be full of awesome explosions, special effects and characters you can love and look forward to seeing again in two years, yet as the film crossed the 2 hour mark I didn’t care if Marky Mark and his teenage daughter lived or died at the end. I know that statement comes off as harsh, but there is nothing in the way of character development that will make an audience member like or care about the plight of Mark Wahlberg’s family. The action sequences have become the glue that holds this franchise together and even they have begun to lose their luster as robotic aliens can only do so much to excite after three movies. There is nothing that can save this movie, the subtitle “Extinction” is appropriate as this movie killed off any fun leftover from the previous three.

It’s a sad day when playing with Hasbro’s new line of movie tie-in Transformers actions figures sounds more exciting than watching this and any future installments of Optimus and the gang on the big screen. Michael Bay is a director who plays chicken with himself, lining up his red and blue semi-trailer truck from 2011 against 2014, seeing just how much he can best himself in explosions, crashes, and deciding if he wants a blue or orange filter this time around.Michael Bay has sadly become the poor man’s James Cameron. His films make tons of money, but unlike Cameron, Michael Bay’s movies beat you to death with action sequences and crazy angles and then beat your mother for good measure too. Summer blockbusters are supposed to be fun and exciting, unfortunately Michael Bay didn’t get the memo and I won’t get three hours of my life back.

Even with all of the warnings I’ve given you about the movie, some of you will inevitably still want to see it either tomorrow or in the coming weeks, so let me suggest an alternative if you truly desire the “Transformers 4” experience.

1) Buy 20 bags of Laffy Taffy candy.

2) Buy 10 packs of firecrackers.

3) Get a blender and a friend and go sit in your living room.

4) Turn on the blender.

5) Get your friend to read the jokes for the next three hours while occasionally setting off firecrackers.

There, you’ve just seen “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction”. Here’s to hoping the next film will be called Transfomers 5: Dead.

MJ’s Ruling: Macbeth’s words on life are perfect for summing up “Transformers 4,” “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” 

T4

 

Ditch Your Honeymoon?

Recently, College Humor made an hilarious video about the mythical tradition of engagement rings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5kWu1ifBGU).  Similarly, since this is the height wedding season, I wanted to focus on the necessity of honeymoons.

As the median student loan balance for a recent graduate approaches $30,000, it really does make you wonder if newly married couples can even afford to go on an expensive honeymoon.  Although weddings are very expensive as well, parents on average still do take on a vast load of that monetary workload; however, the honeymoon is usually left up to the couple (usually the groom).

Given the large student loan debt (or other accrued debts like car loans), should couples still go on expensive honeymoons right after they get married?  Or should there be a grace period for the honeymoon?

And if you are married, what did you do in this situation?

cheap-honeymoon1

Hobby Lobby Rumors

There have been a lot of rumors in the blogosphere and on television about how the recent controversial Hobby Lobby court case will affect society as a whole.  But are any of these rumors warranted? What is your take on the situation?

If you know anyone that actually works for Hobby Lobby, please forward them here.  Their opinion in the matter is most welcomed.

hobby-lobby