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NBA AM: Defending The Timofey Mozgov, Lakers Deal

The Timofey Mozgov deal may seem like a head-scratcher, but the Lakers made a smart decision with limited options.

Lang Greene

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The Los Angeles Lakers were one of the first teams to strike in this year’s free agency period, reportedly agreeing to terms with veteran center Timofey Mozgov. The deal is reported to be a four-year pact worth $64 million. For most fans, paying Mozgov an average of $16 million annually is a head-scratcher, especially since he played less than 80 minutes in this year’s playoffs and so many bigger names were available.

But here’s the cold hard truth.

Yes, the Lakers are one of the league’s premiere franchises. Yes, the Lakers have a past filled with championship trophies. Yes, the Lakers play in one of the most desirable markets in the NBA. But let’s be clear: Los Angeles has won a combined 65 games over the past three seasons. To put this in perspective, the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs won more games in this past season alone.

The Lakers, as a franchise, are in a critical state of rebuild. The team is entering a new era with future Hall of Fame guard Kobe Bryant walking away from the game. The club is also under new leadership, with rookie head coach Luke Walton taking over the bench.

As hard as the Lakers tried to lure top guys into town for a free agency visit, the club just didn’t receive any traction. Top free agents such as Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside and Dwight Howard were inaccessible. Securing the autograph of a superstar such as Kevin Durant was a pipe dream – at best.

Before the Lakers can dream of signing big names, the team must improve their on-court talent level. The club has an interesting mix of youth with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and, now, Brandon Ingram. However, the club is lacking veterans who have proven to be productive.

While most won’t be able to wrap their heads around the Mozgov signing for some time, you have to remember he is an upgrade over last year’s starter Roy Hibbert. Mozgov was buried on Cleveland’s bench for the majority of this past season, but he also started the campaign less than 100 percent after surgery.

If you look at Mozgov over the course of his career, his numbers have been solid when given a consistent allotment of minutes.

When given 10-19 minutes: 5.4 points, four rebounds, 0.8 blocks, 52 percent from field (143 games played)

When given 20-29 minutes: 9.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 55 percent from field (126 games played)

When given 30-39 minutes: 14 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 58 percent from field (31 games played)

In Los Angeles, Mozgov should become the team’s immediate starter in the middle and his production should be at, or slightly above, his normal numbers in the 20-29 minute range. This is solid production for a veteran role player, especially with your young core still on cap-friendly rookie deals.

The Lakers had to get better and, if healthy, Mozgov improves their rotation. Los Angeles will one day re-emerge as a prime free agency destination for elite players, but for now the franchise must rebuild their credibility and make moves of this type.

Batum, Hornets Agree to $100 Million Deal

According to multiple reports, forward Nicolas Batum and the Charlotte Hornets have agreed on a five-year deal worth $120 million.

Charlotte returned to the playoffs last season and outside the continued development of guard Kemba Walker, Batum was a driving force in the team’s ascent in the Eastern Conference standings.

Locking up Batum long-term was general manager Rich Cho and the Hornets’ top priority entering free agency.

Batum averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 70 appearances last season, which was his first in Charlotte. Batum’s importance was magnified due to forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist only appearing in seven games last season due to injury.

The Hornets recorded 48 wins last season, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Miami HEAT in seven games.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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Headlines

#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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