February 21st, 2017
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Corey Brewer, Rockets’ 2017 first round pick
Houston Rockets Receive: Lou Williams
No news out of Los Angeles this week was going to top Magic Johnson getting named President of Basketball Operations. Magic is here to bring the Lakers back to their winning ways, something Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss were not able since the death of the legendary Dr. Jerry Buss. Jeanie Buss took controlled and relieved both her brother and Mitch Kupchak of their duties. This situation may turn out similar to what is currently going on with Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia 76ers. Sam Hinkie decided to rebuild this team from the ground up and sacrificed wins to do so. The Sixers (or NBA) brought in the Colangelo’s to help with the process. Hinkie resigned soon after. Now that Hinkie’s master plan is coming to fruition, people are realizing what a genius he was, yet the Colangelo’s will be in charge when the winning starts to occur. The Lakers organization is not used to having down years. The past couple seasons have been the worst the Lakers have had in a while. Yet Kupchak and Buss were able to bring in young talent, with another likely top three pick in one of the best draft classes in years. D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, and the pick in the draft this year look like a very solid foundation with a lot of potential, almost all on rookie deals.
Magic’s first move in charge was to send out Sixth Man of the Year Candidate Lou Williams, a move many people expected. Anything short of sending out some of their promising young players for a superstar, this trade deadline was all about setting themselves up for even more future success. Whether that meant bringing in young players, acquiring draft picks, or shipping out some of the veteran contracts on the roster, like Timofey Mozgov or Luol Deng, to clear up space to find free agents. The most likely scenario was trading a veteran on a reasonable contract, such as Nick Young or Lou Williams, to a contender. Bringing in Corey Brewer was more to make salary work. Brewer doesn’t expect to have much of a role on this team. Maybe just locker room leadership. He is signed through 2017-2018, but there is a chance they move him this summer to a contender with cap space. The first round pick is what matters. If the season ended today, this would be the 27th pick in the 2017 draft. In this deep draft, this is good value to get back for an older player who does not have a part in the Lakers’ future. If this pick turns out to be a rotation piece for he Lakers, this was a solid trade for them. Especially if they can turn Brewer into a second round pick over the summer. Just a shame the pick will be so late in the first and they were not able to get someone like K.J. Daniels instead of Brewer.\
Lou Williams is having one of the best seasons of his career this year. He is averaging 18.6 points per game, with a PER of 24.1 in just 24.2 minutes per game. To give up just a late first rounder and Corey Brewer for a player having this type of season is a great move. Everyone seems to do even better in a D’Antoni offense, and Williams should expect to do the same. There is a little redundancy between Williams and current sixth man Eric Gordon, but the Rockets have all but guaranteed the Sixth Man of the Year will come from them. The way the Rockets will win in the playoffs is by outscoring other teams and this helps the cause. If Williams, Gordon, James Harden, and Ryan Anderson can find a way to share the court for short spurts, this team will score unlike anyone in the NBA not named the Warriors. The fact that Williams is on a bargain contract though 2017-2018 and not just a rental is even more of a bonus. If for some reason K.D. or Steph leaves the Warriors this summer, it will open up the West next year and the Rockets would have to be considered the favorites after the Warriors. K.J. McDaniels should be able to step right in and play the role Brewer had for the Rockets. There will be no defensive drop-off. We forget how good at defense McDaniels was back with Philly, he just hasn’t been given the chance on a contender. Great move by the Rockets amping up their offense while losing very little on the defensive side. There is a good chance that pick would have been a draft-and-stash anyway, or it would have been a player who would not be making a contribution in the near future.