3 Points: On Steve Nash's legacy

March, 26, 2015
Mar 26
11:00
PM PT
By ESPNLosAngeles.com
ESPNLosAngeles.com

NashHarry How/Getty ImagesSteve Nash finally announced his retirement, but should his final years define his legacy in any way?


Each week, ESPN.com Lakers beat writer Baxter Holmes, along with ESPN.com NBA writers Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi, will weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Los Angeles Lakers followers.

1. Will Steve Nash's tenure with the Lakers influence how you will remember his career?

SportsNation

How will you remember Steve Nash?

  •  
    48%

  •  
    39%

  •  
    1%

  •  
    12%

Discuss (Total votes: 145)

Holmes: Not really. He was hurt, and it didn't work out. But Nash will be defined as one of the greatest point guards ever to play the game, a player who beautifully ran a revolutionary Phoenix Suns offense that many teams today try to mimic in ways big and small. There are so many incredible statistical achievements on his résumé -- too many to name. I'll remember all that, not these last few years.

Shelburne: No. I've already forgotten he was a Laker. Nash will be remembered for his time with the Suns. That's where he made his mark and had his greatest years. These last three years in Los Angeles are just the unsatisfying postscript to a Hall of Fame career. Now, if I were Lakers management, it wouldn't be so easy to forget his tenure in L.A. The draft picks they gave up -- and the salary they committed to him -- set the franchise back in immeasurable ways. They'll be digging out from that trade for at least another year or two. But that's the Lakers' issue, not Nash's. He can retire with his legacy intact and head held high.

Markazi: No. Like Michael Jordan's time with the Washington Wizards at the end of his career, I don't think anyone will really focus on it years down the line when we talk about his Hall of Fame career. It would be nice if he could have ended his career on a better note, but it doesn't take away from everything he did in Dallas and Phoenix that made him one of the best point guards ever.


2. Have we reached the point where we can we say Jordan Clarkson is the real deal?

Jordan Clarkson
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images Jordan Clarkson is showing he belongs in the NBA, but will he be a long-term solution for the Lakers?

Holmes: I think we've reached the point where Clarkson has definitely proved he can play in this league and has the potential to be a rotation player for the Lakers going forward. Is he a starting point guard in the NBA? Not at the moment. He might be one day, but that's maybe the most stacked position in the league right now. Either way, he has proven he belongs. That's pretty impressive for a second-round pick.

Shelburne: Yes. The kid just keeps getting better and better each game. I think he has established himself as part of the Lakers' future. It's still debatable how big a role he will play. On this team, in this season, you can't really tell if Clarkson is a future starter or a future backup. But he's clearly a player the Lakers will want to keep around long enough to find out.

Markazi: Yes. I think Clarkson is a solid player who could have a long future for the Lakers, but I still don't see him being the long-term answer as the starting point guard. I still think the Lakers eventually will end up with Russell Westbrook but until then, maybe Clarkson can keep his seat warm.


3. If the Lakers keep their protected draft pick, is there a player or position on which they should focus their attention?

Jahlil Okafor
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsIf Jahlil Okafor is available, the Lakers might be wise to zero in on picking him in the draft.

Holmes: If Duke's Jahlil Okafor or Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns is there, I'd take one of those two above all others simply because good big men are hard to find. If not, Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell looks as if he could be a point guard of the future for some lottery team. He has been very, very impressive.

Shelburne: No. Just take the best player available. You don't know yet what you really have in Julius Randle or Clarkson. Both are talented, but it's too soon to know where their ceilings are. The most important thing for a franchise with as many holes to fill as the Lakers is to draft the best player available. Worry about position later. Talent is what matters now.

Markazi: I don't think there's a particular position. They need help at a lot of positions. It's hard to say who they'll pick without knowing where they'll be picking, but I obviously think Okafor would be the prized pick followed by Emmanuel Mudiay and Towns.

2015 front-office rankings: Owners

March, 26, 2015
Mar 26
9:00
PM PT
video

Our front-office rankings conclude with a look at the NBA's 30 owners.

We asked our ESPN Forecast panel to rate every team's ownership group. In particular, we asked the voters to rate each team's ownership in terms of their performance in guiding the franchise to overall on-court success, both in the short and long term.

On Tuesday, we unveiled our overall front-office rankings. On Wednesday, we broke down our rankings of team presidents and GMs. And on Thursday we revealed our coach rankings.

Here's how the 30 owners rank, according to our panel:

Owner rankings

RELATED CONTENT

Overall rankings | GM rankings | Coach rankings

Young: Is Sam Presti's plan in OKC misunderstood? »

TrueLA: The trouble with Doc as Clippers GM »

Q&A: Larry Bird on building the Pacers and more »


(Read full post)


video

At a news conference introducing Metta World Peace as a member of Italy's Pallacanestro Cantu, he discusses how he has matured over the years.
video

A look back at Jeremy Lin's meteoric rise, and the subsequent fall.
video

Marc Stein discusses the Cavaliers' interest in Steve Nash before the two-time MVP retired on Saturday.

2015 front-office rankings: Coaches

March, 25, 2015
Mar 25
9:00
PM PT
video

Our front-office rankings continue with a look at the NBA's 30 current head coaches -- the league's on-court decision-makers.

We asked our ESPN Forecast panel to rate every team's coach. In particular, we asked the voters to rate each coach on his guidance and leadership in terms of how it affects overall on-court success, both in the short and long term.

(On Tuesday, we unveiled our overall front-office rankings. On Wednesday, we broke down our rankings of team presidents and GMs. On Friday, we'll reveal our owner rankings.)

Here's how the 30 coaches rank, according to our panel:

Coach rankings

RELATED CONTENT

Overall rankings | GM rankings | Owner rankings

MacMullan: Brad Stevens' poise key to C's progress »

Arnovitz: Top NBA head-coaching prospects »

TrueLA: The trouble with Doc as Clippers GM »


(Read full post)


video

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jordan Clarkson hit two free throws with 0.3 seconds left in overtime to send the Los Angeles Lakers over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 101-99 on Wednesday night.

Clarkson scored eight points in overtime and finished with 20. Jeremy Lin added 19 points for the Lakers, who snapped a five-game road losing streak and won for the second time in three games.

Andrew Wiggins had 27 points for Minnesota.

Chase Budinger scored 22 and sent the game into overtime with a 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left in regulation as the Timberwolves erased a 13-point, second-half deficit.


(Read full post)


Lakers start first Asian-American backcourt

March, 25, 2015
Mar 25
3:33
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Though it would end up just another loss in a trying season, the Los Angeles Lakers made history in Wednesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The duo of Jordan Clarkson and Jeremy Lin became the first-ever Asian-American starting backcourt in the NBA.

"Proud to make history tonight with [Jordan Clarkson]," Lin wrote in a caption of a photo of him and Clarkson on his Instagram account."First ever starting Asian-American backcourt in the NBA!! Proud of rook for that 30-piece too! #asianinvasion#halfasiancounts"

Clarkson scored a career-high 30 points in the 127-117 loss to the Thunder, and Lin scored 19 points. Each guard added seven assists.

Metta World Peace to play in Italy

March, 25, 2015
Mar 25
6:11
AM PT

CANTU, Italy -- Former NBA All-Star Metta World Peace has signed for Italian team Pallacanestro Cantu for the remainder of the season.

After a series of teasing tweets from the 35-year-old World Peace -- such as "whatever you can do I Cantu better" -- Cantu confirmed the news, calling it "the coup of the century."

World Peace, who changed his name from Ron Artest, was playing for the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association after a long NBA career that included stints with the Chicago BullsIndiana PacersSacramento Kings, Houston RocketsLos Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.

"When Daniele (sporting director Daniele Della Fiori) told me about the possibility of signing Metta World Peace, I thought that this could be the right shock to boost the squad at a crucial time in our season," Cantu president Anna Cremascoli said. "Metta will bring a wave of enthusiasm to the whole of Italian basketball and not just to Cantu."

World Peace, 35, averaged 19 points and six rebounds in 15 games for Sichuan -- where he also changed his name to "The Panda's Friend" -- but with the Chinese season over, he has turned to Italy.

World Peace won the NBA title in 2010 with the Lakers, where he also spent a season with Darius Johnson-Odom, who has been at Cantu since August.

"I'm happy, obviously," Johnson-Odom said. "I've spoken to Metta on the phone and he's very excited about this new adventure. I'm sure he will give us a great contribution, because we're talking about an absolute champion."


(Read full post)


2015 front-office rankings: Top execs

March, 24, 2015
Mar 24
9:00
PM PT
video

We're continuing our front-office rankings with a look at the league's lead basketball decision-makers -- team presidents, general managers and, in some cases, owners -- the people who have the strongest say when it comes to transactions.

(On Thursday, we'll reveal our coach rankings, and on Friday, we'll break down our owner rankings. Click here for our overall rankings, which we unveiled Tuesday.)

We asked our ESPN Forecast panel to rate every team's basketball decision-maker(s). In particular, we asked the voters to rate each team's front-office management on its guidance and leadership in terms of how it affects overall on-court success, both in the short and long term.

Here's how they stack up:

RELATED CONTENT

Overall rankings | Coach rankings | Owner rankings

Young: Is Sam Presti's plan in OKC misunderstood? »

TrueLA: The trouble with Doc as Clippers GM »

Q&A: Larry Bird on building the Pacers and more »


(Read full post)


Clarkson rises to challenge vs. Westbrook

March, 24, 2015
Mar 24
8:58
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive

video

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Of course Jordan Clarkson was pumped up to face Russell Westbrook, the human fireball who is burning ridiculously white hot at the moment.

Clarkson didn't hide that fact either after scoring a career-high 30 points in the Los Angeles Lakers 127-117 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"It's always motivation to go against somebody that everybody talks about," Clarkson said.

[+] EnlargeJordan Clarkson
Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty ImagesRookie Jordan Clarkson scored a career-high 30 points on Tuesday against the Thunder.

It's worth noting that Clarkson didn't exactly win the battle. Westbrook scored 27 points and had 11 assists. And he probably would've notched another triple-double had he not been on the bench during the entire fourth quarter when the Thunder were comfortably ahead.

Still, Clarkson was clearly as aggressive as he has been in any game so far -- no mere coincidence since he was playing against arguably the most aggressive player in the NBA.

"I've just got to learn to put that into everybody when I go out there and step on the floor," said Clarkson, who was 12-of-19 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from deep.

Clarkson's performance was another promising step for the second-round draft pick out of Missouri who continues to impress the team and fans -- and perhaps giving credence to the idea that he could be a solid player for the Lakers moving forward.

"He's doing a great job for us," said Lakers assistant Paul Pressey, the team's acting head coach while Byron Scott remains in Southern California to attend funeral services for his mother.

"The growth for him has been very good with guys going down with injuries, allowing him to play a little more. It is just a great opportunity for him to improve his game. He knows how to put the ball in the hole and we are trying to get him to be a facilitator."

Clarkson added seven assists, along with a career-high three blocks (including one on Westbrook), and he paired well in the backcourt with Jeremy Lin, who finished with 19 points and seven assists.

video

OKLAHOMA CITY -- NBA scoring leader Russell Westbrook poured in 27 points and added 11 assists and Enes Kanter contributed 25 points and 16 rebounds as the Thunder beat the Lakers 127-117 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.

Kanter had a double-double in the first quarter with 15 points and 10 rebounds as Oklahoma City raced out to a 37-27 lead.

After trailing by 15 at the half, the Lakers closed to 70-61 before Westbrook scored twice in 15 seconds on his way to 14 third-quarter points.

The Thunder led 100-88 after three and played reserves most of the fourth quarter.

Jordan Clarkson scored 30 for the Lakers, who lost for the 10th time in their last 12 games.


(Read full post)


Thunder 127, Lakers 117: What defense?

March, 24, 2015
Mar 24
7:26
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive

video

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant remained on the sideline, but the Oklahoma City Thunder didn't miss him much Tuesday.

Even without their star, the Thunder still had more than enough firepower to torch the Los Angeles Lakers 127-117 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Thunder star Russell Westbrook picked up the slack, finishing with 27 points, 11 assists and two rebounds, and the Thunder hit the 100-point barrier in the third quarter, demolishing a Lakers' defense that was pretty much absent from tipoff on.

Thunder forward Enes Kanter also chipped in with 25 points and 16 rebounds.

At 18-51, the Lakers, who have lost 10 of their past 12 games, are now four losses from their most losses in franchise history, a record that they set last season.

They have 12 games remaining this season.

Top player: Westbrook failed to notch his 10th triple-double of the season, but he didn't play in the fourth quarter either. He played 30 minutes and hit 9-of-17 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers. He hit seven of his eight free-throws. There were also plenty of fast-break highlights and a couple thunderous slams sprinkled in there.

Top Laker: Lakers rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson was clearly pretty jazzed to face Westbrook, and the second-round pick out of Missouri responded with his best game of the season: a career-high 30 points, seven assists, two rebounds and three blocks in 36 minutes. He hit 12-of-19 from the field.

Stat of the night: The Thunder held a 66-58 edge in points in the paint after crushing the Lakers on the glass, 49-28.

Notes: After scoring a season-high 29 points in Sunday's win against the Philadelphia 76ers, Lakers guard Jeremy Lin moved back into the starting lineup. He finished with 19 points and seven assists. ... The Lakers are looking to develop young players the rest of the way, which meant forwards Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill both received a healthy scratch. ... Lakers assistant Paul Pressey was the team's acting head coach in place of Byron Scott, who remained in Southern California to attend funeral services for his mother.

Up next: The Lakers continue a five-game road trip in Minnesota, where they'll face the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Pressey will coach the Lakers in that game.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.3