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NBA Rumors: Did Lakers Really Cost Themselves Klay Thompson?

The Lakers didn’t have a need, or reasonable method of acquiring, Klay Thompson in 2010… Kenneth Faried a problem in Denver? That and more!

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Klay Thompson Wanted to be a Laker?

Klay Thompson would have entered the 2010 NBA Draft out of Washington State had the Los Angeles Lakers guaranteed they would take him in the first round.

Thompson returned to school for his junior season and became the 11th overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2011 NBA Draft.

The Lakers had already traded their first round pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, though they did own the 38th pick from the Memphis Grizzlies.

Via Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports

There’s a couple of unmentioned assumptions that should prevent Laker fans from letting this power rankings tidbit drive them mad, because the thought of the Lakers passing on Thompson is certainly hard to swallow right now based on the team’s current struggles.

First, at the time the Lakers were a big luxury tax payer, and would have had to pay at least double for Thompson and found a way to trade back into the first round. The pick was originally traded in the 2008 deal for Pau Gasol – a move the Lakers would make 10 times out of 10 even with the benefit of hindsight being 20-20 and knowing how good Thompson would become. They were coming off of a championship run, with Gasol serving as an integral piece, and had their eyes set on veterans in free agency that were more worth paying double for than a rookie first rounder that then-head coach Phil Jackson was unlikely to give playing time to anytime soon.

Second, they didn’t have a need at the shooting guard position at the time – and still don’t, technically. Of course, Thompson would be sharing the court with Kobe Bryant in some fashion if he were on the team right now, with one of them playing at small forward, but in 2010 they put together a team that featured a clogged backcourt with Shannon Brown, Steve Blake, Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic along with the aforementioned Bryant. They were even loaded at small forward with Metta World Peace, Luke Walton, Devin Ebanks and Matt Barnes.

Lastly, and most importantly, while the Lakers could have given Thompson, whose father played for and still works for the Lakers, a guarantee, there was no guarantee that he was going to be on the board at a range they could have traded into. In fact, it’s extremely unlikely that he would have been available at 28, where the Lakers would have selected if they didn’t trade the pick away two years prior, and almost virtually impossible that he would have been there at 43 or 58, where the Lakers picked in the second round. Thompson was one of the premier shooting guards in the country his sophomore season, averaging just under 20 points a game. Thompson easily could have been selected as high as 16 (Luke Babbitt, Portland Trail Blazers), with his floor probably being the Atlanta Hawks at 27 (where they took Jordan Crawford).

Every franchsie has a long list of draft night mistakes and things they wish they could do differently, but when it comes to the 2010 NBA Draft, the Lakers and Thompson – there’s very little for the Lakers to be kicking themselves over. Odds are, they wouldn’t have been able to get him if he declared anyway.

Faried a Problem in Denver?

Several sources around the league insist the Nuggets’ hand was forced with regard to (Kenneth) Faried. After the signing of Hickson to a three-year, approximately $16 million contract soon after Connelly’s arrival, the sense was the bouncy big man was insurance against Faried’s departure in free agency in 2014. Faried was a fan favorite in Denver, but multiple sources with knowledge of the Nuggets’ thinking maintain the team “isn’t crazy about him,” particularly Shaw. But with Faried’s boffo showing last summer with Team USA and a loyal following in Denver, the media-conscious Nuggets caved, adding yet another imperfect 4-man to their lot.

“[Faried] is a helluva player and plays hard, but he isn’t well liked [in the organization],” a league source said. “That gets glossed over. He says crazy s—. He thinks he’s the guy, and other guys take exception to his contract.”

Via Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN

These are the kind of stories that come out when a team is underachieving as badly as the Denver Nuggets are. However, a $50 million commitment isn’t made lightly, or with much hesitation. The fact of the matter is that Faried earned that extension with his play in the second half of last season and during the FIBA World Cup with Team USA. He may have his cons, but what player not named Kevin Durant, LeBron James or Anthony Davis doesn’t? Nobody is more familiar with Faried’s strengths and weaknesses than the Nuggets, yet they still felt comfortable making him one of their long-term centerpieces.

Faried has had a disappointing start to the 2014-15 season, averaging just 11.6 points and 7.2 rebounds a game – both down from last year’s career best 13.7 points and 8.6 rebound averages. He’s part of the Nuggets’ problem, though, not the source of them. And, as far as the comments made by the league source, Faried at times has proven capable of being “the guy” plus players with no confidence don’t last long in the league. And, the Nuggets have players with contracts that didn’t do as much to earn as Faried did, making it another piece of unfair criticism.

This comes with the territory of being one of the faces of a franchise, though. If the Nuggets turn things around, Faried will get a lot of credit. But, for now, as they struggle, he’s catching a lot of the blame. That’s the way it goes when you make the big bucks.

Grizzlies expect win over Kings to stand

Via Twitter

On Monday the Sacramento Kings announced that they were challenging the Memphis Grizzlies’ buzzer-beating win, however there’s really very little precedence for the league overturning victories in this situation. At the time of the play, they reviewed it heavily and had everything at their disposal that they do now as they make the review on the request of the Kings, so expect Wallace to be right and the victory to stand.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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