Helin: LeBron, Lakers Out In Second Round

Kurt Helin doesn't foresee a deep playoff run for the Lakers, but he also thinks more moves are coming

Reiter Than You
July 11, 2018 - 9:55 am

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If you’re trying to build an NBA contender, LeBron James is a good place to start. After that, though, nothing is certain for the Lakers.

“I’m less convinced by their ‘We’re getting playmakers’ thing than they are” NBCSports.com lead NBA writer Kurt Helin said on Reiter Than You. “I think their defense is going to be okay. It was 12th last year. LeBron certainly makes it better when he’s focused. But there’s guys on there you can pick apart in a playoff series. I’m less convinced by their shooting, but I’m also pretty convinced that’s not what the roster is going to look like by the end of the trade deadline. I don’t think the Lakers are just standing pat. There could be moves. We’ll see. But right now, I’d probably put them out in the second round. I think that’s where it stands.”

Unless, of course, they match up with someone other than the Warriors.

“I think once you get past the Warriors, it just feels like there’s a lot of tightness in the West,” Helin said. “Denver is pretty good now. Minnesota is really good. Oklahoma City is going to be back and still be really defensive and really good. There’s going to be a whole bunch of teams that fall between 52, 53 and 47 wins and you’re going to have to get to that number to make the playoffs. And a couple of little things (could be the difference). If the Pelicans lose Anthony Davis for three weeks, that might be enough for them to miss the playoffs. It’s just going to be that kind of Western Conference.”

Indeed, Minnesota, which won 47 games last season, made the playoffs. Denver, which won 46, did not.

Houston, meanwhile, likely won’t match its 65-win total, especially after losing Trevor Ariza to the Suns and Luc Mbah a Moute to the Clippers.

Has the Rockets’ window closed?

“I’m not quite ready to go to closed, but they have certainly, certainly, certainly taken a step back,” Helin said. “Look, they’re almost definitely going to get Carmelo Anthony. Maybe he buys in, but it still doesn’t replace Ariza and Mbah a Moute. They’re taking a step back right now. And they’ve got to worry about (Clint) Capela.”

Capela, 24, reportedly wants a $100 million contract. The Rockets, however, don’t want to offer anywhere near that.

“If you low-ball him too much, he’s going to say, ‘There’s a lot of money on the table next year. I’ll play for the qualifying offer,’” Helin explained. “Then he’s an unrestricted free agent and he can kind of go do what he wants. He wants $100 (million). They’re offering closer to $60 (million), everybody’s saying. So there’s a lot of middle ground in there were you could probably make everybody happy, but they do not want to blow this.”