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2014-2015 Los Angeles Lakers Preview

Basketball Insiders continues previewing the 2014-2015 NBA season with a look at the Los Angeles Lakers of the Pacific Division.

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The Los Angeles Lakers ended last season with the worst record (27-55) in the franchise’s illustrious 66-year history. Basketball Insiders takes a look at the 2014-15 roster as this proud organization attempts to not only rebuild in the shadow of an aging giant, but also find a way to permit five-time champion Kobe Bryant to finish his Hall of Fame run as gracefully and successfully as possible.

Basketball Insiders previews the 2014-2015 Los Angeles Lakers.

Five Guys Think

Here’s the cold reality for the Lakers: Kobe Bryant makes a lot of money for a team that wasn’t very good a year ago, so currently Hollywood is not the free agency hotbed that it used to be. The Lakers also are not quite the team they used to be, but for those already writing them off completely: stop it. There are some decent ball players on this team, even if half of the roster is seemingly comprised of power forwards, and behind players like Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer, they can be more competitive than many are giving them credit for. Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Julius Randle all should be respectable role players, and if healthy, Bryant would definitely rather go out with a roar than with a whimper. They’re not competing for a championship, but they’ll be better than many expect.

3rd Place – Pacific Division

-Joel Brigham

The Lakers had a disappointing offseason. They entered the summer hoping to land a star player like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love. Instead, their big acquisitions were Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis. Getting Kobe Bryant back from injury should help them, but it remains to be seen if he can return to elite form. Drafting Julius Randle was an excellent decision for L.A. and he could be a star for them in the future. However, it’s hard to imagine the Lakers having much success in the short-term. The team may be marginally better than last year’s 27-55 squad, but they’re bringing back many of the same players and the Western Conference is just as loaded with talented teams. It seems like the Lakers are poised to struggle once again.

5th Place – Pacific Division

– Alex Kennedy

The Los Angeles Lakers are no longer among the league’s elite and will head to training camp with plenty of question marks. Can Kobe Bryant regain his form and play at a high level after numerous injuries? How much does point guard Steve Nash have left in the tank in what may possibly be his final season as a professional? Is rookie forward Julius Randle ready to play a significant role right out of the cereal box? The health of Bryant is obviously the most important in the equation. Without Bryant playing at a high level, for a significant amount of games, the team will struggle to pull out wins. Too many what-ifs present to predict a playoff berth, but the team should definitely improve on its 27 victories from  last season.

4th Place – Pacific Division

– Lang Greene

Although the Los Angeles Lakers failed to catch one of the big fish from last July’s free agency school, they managed to salvage quite a bit. The acquisition of Jeremy Lin is a low-cost, high-reward proposition, as the point guard position has been a void on this roster for quite some time. Carlos Boozer, though not as talented as Pau Gasol, will replace the Spaniard and, along with rookie Julius Randle, provide the Lakers with some much-needed size up front. Whether or not the Lakers have a real chance of qualifying for the playoffs or not will ultimately fall squarely on the 36-year-old shoulders (and knees) of Kobe Bryant and whether or not new head coach Byron Scott can replicate the success he had as the head coach of the New Jersey Nets from 2000-2004. In all likelihood, the Lakers will once again be on the outside looking in when playoff time rolls around, but with so many new faces and Bryant’s pending return, it would be unwise to completely discount them.

4th place – Pacific Division

– Moke Hamilton

For decades the Los Angeles Lakers have been operating with distinct advantages that the rest of the league struggled to compete with. The league’s increase in exposure has really worked against them, taken away from their prestige and even the playing field when it comes to recruiting stars. You no longer have to play in Los Angeles to be a nation-wide, or global-wide star. That’s why they’ve been one of the biggest losers in each of the last two offseasons. That, and the appeal of playing with Kobe Bryant coming off of the two most serious injuries of his career while he’s getting paid the most money in the league just isn’t that attractive. It’s quite possible that we’ve seen the last of Bryant in the playoffs, as the Lakers lack the top-tier talent necessary to compete in the Western Conference right now. Barring impressive bounce back seasons from Steve Nash, Carlos Boozer and Bryant, it’s hard to see how the Lakers even come close to competing for a playoff spot. Their competition only got better, while they frankly got worse. For the first time in his career, it’s easy to choose against the Black Mamba, and it could be until they strike gold in the draft like they did with him before they ever contend again.

5th place – Pacific Division

– Yannis Koutroupis

Top Of The List

Top Offensive Player: For the first time in a decade, last year’s Lakers team didn’t have Kobe Bryant to serve as the team’s top offensive weapon and it was evident on many nights. While players like Jodie Meeks (Detroit) and Nick Young (re-signed) may have enjoyed career seasons, the team lacked a clear-cut and dependable “first option” and someone whom could be leaned upon for leadership and guidance throughout adversity on most nights. Although age and the attrition of both minutes and injuries will force Bryant to continue adjusting his game, he will likely remain the top offensive player for the Lakers until he removes his jersey for the final time.That isn’t to say he’ll absolutely need to be the team’s leading scorer each and every night (although we wouldn’t put it past him to end up leading with somewhere around 23.5 PPG), but Bryant will still remain the most pivotal offensive piece both as a scorer and playmaker for the Lakers frankly because he’s still talented enough to do so. Even though we’ve likely seen the last of his free-wheeling and high-flying days of the past, as long as Bryant is healthy he’ll still be able to out-think and out-maneuver most opponents on a given night. Scott and Bryant have to find a way to balance his responsibilities and minutes played so that he can be most efficient and effective while on the court. Never has there been a greater need for Bryant to pace himself, not only throughout the season and from game to game, but even as far as self-assessing from quarter to quarter.

Top Defender: This will likely be Scott’s most difficult responsibility in 2014-15. The fact is the team simply doesn’t have enough defensive oriented players at this time. Bryant is 36, in his aforementioned 19th season and returning from what were ultimately consecutive season-ending injuries. As someone that had been unable to consistently answer the bell on the defensive end even prior to the last two seasons, clearly the Lakers cannot and should not enter the year expecting Bryant to champion the cause. Julius Randle is a young and active body, but we have yet to see what his defense will look like at this level. Ed Davis and Jordan Hill have each been rim-protectors in reserve roles, but with a potential starting backcourt that could have a combined age of 77 years old by the second week in February, chances are these Lakers are going to need the equivalence of the reincarnation of Wilt Chamberlain or a young Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Sweet Lew, if you will…) manning the paint in order to prevent opponents from living in the lane. Scott can preach about pride and passion all he’d like, but unless he can devise and get the team to execute perfect defensive schemes and game plans on a nightly basis, that will remain their biggest issue along the way.

Top Playmaker: Jeremy Lin is in the unique position of being in a contract year with an opportunity to lead one of the NBA’s ‘Glamor Franchises’ as it attempts to rise from the ashes all while during the comeback  and literal Swan song of the one of the more beloved players in the organization’s history. If that doesn’t make for a grand stage for a free-agent-to-be, we aren’t sure what might. We’re not predicting a repeat of ‘Linsanity’ or anything of that nature, but the circumstances are in place for Lin to have a very productive year as he seeks long-term security moving forward. While known for being a guy that thrives in the pick-and-roll, Lin has actually improved as an all-around offensive player that can also play off-ball. At 6’3, Lin does a good job of probing in the halfcourt set, and routinely finds his way into the paint and to the rim. Although he should be one of the team’s primary ball-handlers and playmakers, he remains versatile and flexible enough to shift into whatever role Scott may ask of him.

Top Clutch Player: This is probably the easiest answer of any preview we’ll do throughout the preseason, but we have no doubts Bryant will occupy that spot once again for the Lakers. He may not be expected to go off for 20-point quarters or single-handedly carry these Lakers throughout a game, but if there’s one thing Bryant has absolutely lived for throughout his career it would be for the opportunity to pull his team through in the end by any means necessary.

Top Unheralded Player: A strong case should probably be made for Nick Young as he heads into his second season with the Lakers and a chance to play alongside a mentor in Bryant, but we’re not sure just how “unheralded” you can claim to be when you’re in the limelight (for various reasons) quite as much as the 29-year-old swingman. Instead, we’ll actually take a moment to acknowledge Wesley Johnson as someone we expect to have a bit of a turnaround season this year. While Johnson was one of the few players from last year that was active on the defensive end in most games, he still struggled to find consistency on the offensive side of things and in particular with his shot. In an effort to improve on that end, it was reported that Johnson decided to work with Bryant throughout the summer and emulate his offseason training regimen. Put simply, if you’re looking to learn a few tricks of the trade and further develop your game, then you could probably do a lot worse than being personally tutored by a ‘Roundball Rembrandt’ like Bryant.

Top New Addition: The Lakers have to absolutely hope Julius Randle fulfills this role. Even though Bryant will remain a key figure regardless of the circumstances, the team must move forward in terms of developing and nurturing the up-and-coming talent. After concerns surrounding the draft, all reports are that Randle’s surgically repaired foot is strong and healthy. Although seen as a guy that is generally liked and respected by his players, Scott is also known for holding them accountable and has already challenged Randle to report to camp in the best shape of his life. Randle isn’t currently slated as a starter despite being a high lottery pick, but don’t be surprised to see this determined and self-motivated young man work himself into playing a significant role within the rotation and earning additional minutes and trust throughout the year.

– Jabari Davis

Who We Like

1. Kobe Bryant: Forgive us if we fall over ourselves saying “DUH” to this one. Even at this state of his career, Bryant finds a way to enter the season with a proverbial chip on his shoulders as he attempts to disprove any/all doubters (See: Charles Barkley). The truth of the matter is, the greatest battle may just lie within as Bryant has been very candid and forthcoming about the natural doubt and questions that come along with attempting to rehab and return to form after so many years.

2. Julius Randle: Whether he starts to begin the year or serves in a reserve role for his rookie campaign, the most important thing for Randle (and these Lakers) is that he is permitted to work on his game against live action as much as possible. He’ll provide the energy and effort, but it will be upon Randle, Scott & Co. and his teammates to ensure that he is afforded the opportunity to develop. He already has a nice over-the-shoulder and jump-hook game from the post, but could stand to develop consistency as a face-up option as well as fine-tuning his ball-handling skills. He may be versatile and more agile than expected at his size, but actual season will not be quite as forgiving as some of the summer league action was when he attempted to act as a playmaker off the dribble.

3. Carlos Boozer: It was about time we mentioned Boozer, as he was actually a pretty good pick-up for these Lakers once Pau Gasol decided to leave for Chicago. Boozer may be far from the player he once was while playing as a member of the Utah Jazz, but he can still be an effective offensive player at this point in his career. He’s coming off a year where he provided 13.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG, and while he may not play quite as many minutes (28.2) especially by the end of the year, he is a guy that knows how to score and produce while on the court.

4. Jeremy Lin: We’ve already mentioned that he’s in a great spot during a contract year and should be expected to provide some quality minutes as the primary ball-handler, but he can also serve as a mentor along with Steve Nash for the Lakers’ second-round pick (purchased from Washington) in combo guard Jordan Clarkson.

5. Nick Young: Young may have played the market a bit, but it made a lot of sense for him to return to the ‘Purple and Gold.’ Not only was he absolutely embraced and beloved by the fan base, but Young was as comfortable as we’ve seen him at any point in his career last season. The trick for Young will be finding a way to be productive while serving as a member of a competitive team, and giving the focused effort it will take on the defensive end to keep Scott happy.

– Jabari Davis

Strengths

Even though no one is going to mistake the Lakers’ roster – as currently constituted – as any type of contender, they have clearly improved at several positions where they were playing D-League call-ups for long stretches of 2013-14. If healthy, they should be able to score and produce on the offensive end as everyone settles into and learns Scott’s offensive philosophy. If Scott stays true to form, you’ll probably see them running a mixture of pick-and-roll with various elements of the Princeton offense.

– Jabari Davis

Weaknesses

We hate to harp on the subject, but defense is most likely to be this team’s greatest weakness. Neither Jordan Hill nor Ed Davis have ever served in a starter’s capacity for an entire season, so it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff decides to break down the minutes at the center position. The roster is also a bit heavy with players that are generally power forwards, and does not much depth in case of injuries to either of their four swingmen. They could ultimately decide to test the 6’5 Clarkson with some reserve minutes as a shooting guard if things progress well enough for the first-year player.

– Jabari Davis

The Salary Cap

For the first time since the team acquired Shaquille O’Neal in 1996, the Lakers dropped under the salary cap.  After acquiring Jeremy Lin in trade, Carlos Boozer via an amnesty claim (from the Chicago Bulls) and re-signing Nick Young, the Lakers have used their spending power.  The team also utilized their $2.7 million Room Exception to re-sign Ryan Kelly and Xavier Henry.  The Lakers chose not to stretch out Steve Nash’s $9.7 million salary over three years (at $3.2 million) to protect future spending power.  With 13 players under contract, the Lakers can only add via minimum deals or trades.  The team may look to send out Nash before the trade deadline, and even recently re-signed Jordan Hill (not until after January 15), but unless the Lakers get value in return, they may just wait for next summer when they should have cap space once again.

– Eric Pincus

Dunc’d On

It was a desultory 2013-14 for the Los Angeles Lakers in all respects.  Kobe Bryant got a ludicrous extension that will curtail the Lakers’ efforts to compete through 2015-16, then immediately was re-injured. Mike D’Antoni elected not to return without a contract extension, and the club was unsuccessful in landing Carmelo Anthony, the only major free agent it chased.  Free agent signings with the ostensible goal of competing resulted in a roster without a single above-average defensive player.  Byron Scott, who presided over defenses ranked 25th or worse during all his years in Cleveland, was brought in to coach.

Alas for Lakers fans, there does not appear to be much of a coherent plan in Lakerland these days.  The Bryant extension and his presence on the roster is greatly complicating for a team that should be looking to develop young talent rather than pursue the Sisyphean task of making the playoffs with this roster.

Best Case Scenario

20-62

The Lakers and Celtics, the league’s two proudest franchises, share the dubious distinction of benefitting long-term from having worse records in 2014-15.  While I have argued tanking is an overblown concern in general, that is certainly not the case when a team trades away a protected pick.  In the Lakers’ case, the top-five protected pick they owe Phoenix for the Steve Nash trade provides a great incentive to finish as badly as possible.

Meanwhile, the Lakers’ hopes of acquiring a major free agent or two in 2016 when Bryant comes off the books hinge on having young talent on the roster.  Randle is the only player who qualifies, and he will hopefully start and play over 30 minutes per game. But having another young cost-controlled stud on the squad may be essential to luring top-end 2016 talent.  The Lakers have no way to obtain such a player except by retaining their pick in 2015.  Unfortunately, it looks like the presence of Bryant and myriad mediocre veterans will likely preclude that possibility unless the Lakers get some lottery luck.

Worst Case Scenario

32-50

Randle starts poorly and plays little, as players without a long-term future in LA like Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill play more minutes than he does.  Bryant is painful to watch, while the best defense in Lakerland belongs to the rabid combination of Laker and Jeremy Lin fans reacting to perceived slander of the team.  The squad misses out on the playoffs, yet gives up its draft pick to Phoenix.

– Nate Duncan

The Burning Question

Can the Lakers remain competitive in a deep Western Conference?

Considering it a longshot might be putting it mildly, but then again we aren’t as bold (or as foolish) enough to prematurely kick dirt on Bryant’s grave until we see what his body will permit him to do upon returning. Regardless of what he has left in the tank, this team’s overall team health will be the difference between whether the 2014-15 Lakers are at least competitive or in jeopardy of having to worry about surrendering a lottery pick (1-5 protected) to a team within the division in the Phoenix Suns.

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Grizzlies trade Jonas Valanciunas to Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are shipping guard Eric Bledsoe, center Steven Adams, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks of this week’s upcoming draft. So, the Pelicans are giving up the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. Valanciunas, the 29-year-old veteran center, averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 62 games played throughout the 2020-21 season. He also shot 59 percent from the field. The seven-foot Lithuanian also ranks fourth overall in true shooting percentage (.616) among active players. On July 11, 2019, Valanciunas signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies. He is set to earn $4 million next season.

Additionally, in 71 games played last season, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The six-foot-one guard also shot 42.1 percent from the field in the 2020-21 season. On November 23, 2020, as part of a four-team trade, Bledsoe and Adams were traded to the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with two future first-round picks and the right to swap two additional first-round picks. Last season, in 71 games played, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His field goal percentage was 42.1 percent as well. The 11-year veteran is set to earn $18,125,000 in the 2021-22 season. Before he was traded to New Orleans, on March 4, 2019, the guard signed a four-year, $70 million extension. He earned his first All-Defensive second-team selection in the 2019-20 season.

Moreover, in 58 games played last season, Adams averaged 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The six-foot-eleven center ranks fifth among active players for effective field goal shooting percentage (.591). The eight-year veteran also ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, with an active statistic of 14 percent. On November 23, 2020, the same day Adams was traded to the Pelicans, he signed a two-year, $35 million extension. For next season, he is projected to earn $17,073,171. To add to this trade news, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are swapping second-round picks in this year’s draft, too. Referencing NBA.com’s “Consensus Mock Draft” article, with the No. 10 pick of the draft, the Pelicans were originally expected to draft either Josh Giddey or Davion Mitchell at this number. However, plans have now changed.

From ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade will not be finalized until August 6th, and this is because of the annual salaries of these said players. Free agency will begin on August 2, 6:00 p.m. (EST). Furthermore, per Spotrac’s 2021-22 NBA salary cap table, next season’s luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. The team’s current available luxury tax space is $22,555,195. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have a salary cap maximum of $112,414,000. Brandon Ingram, Bledsoe, and Adams had a combined cap percentage of 39.2 percent. Considering that Bledsoe and Adams are traded away, this will clear up $35,198,171 of dead cap space.

Yesterday, CBS Sports reported the news pertaining to Lonzo Ball’s desire to remain in New Orleans. With extra cap space, the team is expected to re-sign the 23-year-old guard. Likewise, for the Grizzlies, the teams has a luxury tax space of $37,019,952. Their current cap space is $8,321,229. As stated before, the transactions have not yet been finalized. The Grizzlies’ outgoing cap is now $14 million, but from the contracts of Adams and Bledsoe, they are bringing in $35,198,171.

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NBA Trade Rumors: Jazz considering trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

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Per one interesting announcement from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Utah Jazz are open to trading forward Bojan Bogdanovic, forward-guard Joe Ingles, small forward Royce O’Neale, and the No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. Fischer stated, “The Utah Jazz are known to be one of the few teams actually searching to move playoff-tested talent. Retaining Mike Conley is an offseason priority, sources said, and the Jazz have held numerous discussions with teams around the league about offloading salary to create for Conley in free agency.” Point guard Mike Conley is set to become a free agent this offseason. Though, general manager Justin Zanik will aim to re-sign the 33-year-old guard in the coming weeks. Conley earned $34.5 million in the 2020-21 season.

“League personnel most often mention Joe Ingles as the Jazz wing to watch, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale are also considered available for trade as Utah narrows its focus towards building a contender around Donovan Mitchel. The Jazz are also open to discuss trading their No. 30 pick, sources said.” In the 2020-21 season, in 72 games played, Bogdanovic averaged 17 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. On May 1, 2021, in the team’s 106-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the six-foot-seven Croatian scored a season-high 34 points, shooting 12-for-22, and he finished his performance with four rebounds and four assists as well. On July 7, 2019, he signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Jazz.

In 67 games played last season, Ingles averaged 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. The six-foot-eight forward is set to earn $14 million in the 2021-22 season. Plus, among the mentioned players, Royce O’Neale has contributed the least. In 71 games played last season, he averaged seven points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. On January 19, 2020, the forward signed a four-year, $36 million extension with the team. He will earn $8.6 million next season. According to The Athletic, in the team’s seventh workout for draft prospects, they viewed Quentin Grimes, David Duke, Matt Mitchell, and a few other players. In the first round, if the team chooses not to draft any of the players they are holding workouts for, the organization will trade the No. 30 pick.

Just for a reminder, retrieved from Spotrac, the 2021-22 NBA luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. Utah’s active roster cap is $133,284,695, the maximum cap is $112,414,000, and the current cap space is $72,990,215. Furthermore, center Rudy Gobert currently has the highest guaranteed contract on the team. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. Gobert is set to earn $35.3 million in the coming season, whereas Donovan Mitchell will earn $28.1 million. Gobert and Mitchell combined consume 47.6 percent of the team’s salary cap. For the upcoming 2021-22 season, the Jazz have a guaranteed total of $129,719,453. Based on the team’s future outlook, the Jazz will have to make a trade or two in order to retain their star players. This should go without saying.

NBA Analysis Network reported a few days ago that a potential Jazz-Knicks trade target is Bojan Bogdanovic. Greg Patuto proposed the Knicks receiving Bogdanovic, while the Jazz would receive Kevin Knox II, and the Nos. 19 and No. 32 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft. Now, this could still happen at some point during this draft week, but then again, sports bettors and fans alike understand that these news reports could be just rumors. The most intelligent, unforthcoming general managers know not to leave bread crumb trails for the media, especially leading into the offseason. They will do everything necessary to protect their foolproof plans.

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Raptors, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings, and Cavaliers among teams showing interest in Ben Simmons

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According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, five teams have shown interest in pursuing Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers. Fischer reported, “Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Toronto all showed interest in acquiring the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.” Furthermore, the teams are wanting Simmons to change position from point guard to forward. “Multiple executives from those teams, when contacted by Bleacher Report, mentioned their excitement at incorporating Simmons as a play-making forward—not at the point guard position he’s played in Philadelphia.” The six-foot-eleven guard averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season. This might sound fine for a young rookie, but as a five-year player, these aforementioned statistics were career lows.

However, the 25-year-old also earned his third NBA All-Star selection and second All-Defensive first-team selection last season. After a less than mediocre performance in his third postseason of his NBA career, the majority of 76ers’ fans would agree that it’s now time for Simmons to have a change in scenery. With a regular season record of 49-23 (.681), the No. 1 ranked 76ers in the Eastern Conference entered the conference semifinals as favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. Leading into this series, some NBA analysts were predicting Philadelphia to prevail four games to two. The 2016 first overall pick was expected to limit Trae Young in scoring and rally his team from point deficits, but none of this ever manifested.

Pertaining to postseason averages, Simmons had a playoff series-low of 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the conference semifinals against the Hawks. This lackluster showing proved to be a more significant downfall for the superstar, considering Simmons had only five points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 7 versus the Hawks. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged 2.1 steals per game, leading all other players in the league. Moreover, Simmons currently ranks sixth in the NBA for active player triple-doubles (32). With a total of 32 career triple-doubles, he ranks 13th on the all-time list, tied with Clippers’ guard Rajon Rondo.

On July 16, 2019, Simmons signed a five-year, $169.65 million contract extension with the 76ers. He is set to earn $30.5 million in the 2021-22 season. Among these teams interested in Simmons, Cavs’ Kevin Love has the fourth largest contract guarantee of $91.4 million. Love is due to earn $31.3 million next season, and the 13-year veteran’s contract consumes 26 percent of the team’s salary cap. He could be traded this offseason. Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns has a contract guarantee of $130.8 million. The 25-year-old Wolves center will earn $31.6 million in the upcoming season.

Plus, Kings’ 2017 first-round pick De’Aaron Fox has a guaranteed contract of $171.1 million. Fox will earn $28.1 million next season. To add to that, Raptors’ Pascal Siakim has a contract guarantee of $131.4 million. Not to mention, reported by Yahoo Sports via trade rumors yesterday, the Golden State Warriors are a potential trade partner for Toronto. The Warriors could make a move on Siakim, clearing up space on the Raptors for Simmons. Per Spotrac, the 2021-22 season cap maximum is $112,414,000. In the coming weeks, one of these said five teams might make a substantial trade offer to the 76ers’ organization that they cannot refuse.

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