Premier League Opening Week + How to Rebuild the Lakers | Crooked Media
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August 09, 2022
Takeline
Premier League Opening Week + How to Rebuild the Lakers

In This Episode

Joshua Robinson (Wall Street Journal) joins Takeline to help break down every match from Premier League’s opening weekend, with discussions on Arteta’s future with Arsenal, Tottenham’s statement win & a sputtering Chelsea team. Josh’s new book (Messi vs. Ronaldo), written with Jonathan Clegg is out November 1st, 2022. Then, Trevor Lane (Lakers Nation) joins the show to explain the Lakers’ ideal deadline to trade Russell Westbrook, expectations for Anthony Davis & what contract makes the most sense for LeBron James.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

 

Josh Robinson That’s what’s kind of at the heart of when their rivalry became bigger than them. It’s the question of you don’t just pick a camp. Which camp you pick says something about your entire worldview and what matters to you and how you view football. You know, is it about winning or is it about playing beautifully? Are you into the cult of Ronaldo personality or are you into this guy who presents himself as the ultimate team player but he’s also a maniac?

 

Jason Concepcion Hello and welcome to Takeline, folks. That’s right. Get that beans and toast out. The EPL is back. I’m your host, Jason Concepcion. And to help celebrate the debut of the 2022-2023 English Premier League season, I will be talking to Josh Robinson of the Wall Street Journal about opening weekend in the EPL. It was fun. There’s tons of storylines, fun, action, and I’m so happy that sport is back. And then we’ll be catching up with all things Lakers with Trevor Lane of Laker Nation. Super producer Zuri Irvin is going to jump in to talk about his beloved Lakers and what they should do and how much he can’t wait to, one, trade Russell Westbrook and two, welcome a notable member of the New York Knicks back to the Lakers. I’ll leave it veiled is who that is. You’ll have to listen to figure out who the answer to that identity is. But first, let’s get into it with the great Josh Robinson.

 

news reporter How does arriving on the head doesn’t get there properly and grossed us a sensation here. Well, the unexpected. Is it Manchester United? Right between the eyes.

 

Jason Concepcion It’s opening weekend in the English Premier League and we head to have Josh Robinson of the Wall Street Journal to help us unpack all his doings. What a weekend. Josh, thank you for joining us.

 

Josh Robinson Always a pleasure.

 

Jason Concepcion I want to give brighten their flowers because they have handed United only their second opening day loss in the Post’s Alex Ferguson era. So congratulations Brighton. And if that’s your thoughts on United Erik Ten Hag comes is lured from his perch in IOCs. He comes to United immediately begins feuding with Ronaldo, it seems, who can’t wait to leave the team. Where can he go? Where can they send him? Who can afford him? They bring him on at halftime or the 50th minute, thereabouts. How can we move forward in this way if we are United, if we’re supporters of United?

 

Josh Robinson Well, there’s two things going on at Man United. One is you’ve got Erik Ten Hag who comes from one of the smartest, best run, most well-thought out clubs in Europe. There is a structure for everything. There are nine year olds who are projected to be in the first team in like 2032.

 

Jason Concepcion Yes.

 

Josh Robinson And you have all of that and a coherent philosophy. And then he gets dropped into a reboot. And by the way, it’s a reboot starring Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

Jason Concepcion Yes.

 

Josh Robinson And Cristiano Ronaldo. You know, the United relationship to Cristiano Ronaldo right now is like it’s like that Homer Simpson thing about alcohol. He is the cause of and solution to all of United’s problems.

 

Jason Concepcion I mean, this is a huge club, despite the kind of wobbles they’ve had in the post-Ferguson era is a huge club. You can’t buy it. They can’t buy a striker somewhere like they can’t find anybody to lead the line who is, you know, not Ronaldo, but is more dependable than Renaldo. Like I’m confused as to what their business is.

 

Josh Robinson Well, it’s we have this discussion like every two or three years in the Premier League of is the number nine dead?

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Josh Robinson Right. And it’s like in the periods where the number nine is dead, you get people like Olivier Giroud turning into Premier League stars. And in the period with the number nine.

 

Jason Concepcion Arsenal Legend.

 

Josh Robinson Arsenal legend. Only scores great goals. But in the periods where the number nine is thriving, they want to play Champions League football and United can’t offer that.

 

Jason Concepcion Let’s talk about their cross-town rivals and burgeoning home of the new number nine in England, Erling Haaland, Manchester City. I was ready to you know, I was ready to write Haaland off. Well, see, because I’m a hater, not for any actual reason other than, you know, Pep has spent his entire career building out this philosophy of these beautiful triangles. And you have to have X amount of passes before we do this. And if you put the ball over the top to the striker, I’m going to pull you. And now they have added a man, Erling Haaland, who I mean, you just boot him the ball, just kick it into space, like forget the given goal was just like hit him the ball. And he scored one of those kind of iconic left footed goals that he has been tattooing across Europe previous to this. Your thoughts on on City over West Ham?

 

Josh Robinson Well, it’s interesting because the last time, you know, the closest thing I think we’ve seen to Haaland is Slaton. And, you know, Pep had that guy, too. You could not he could not get along with him. You know and Slaton famously left saying, you know, you’ve kept this Ferrari in the garage. And so with Holland, it’s like you think it’s going to be this huge, different philosophy. But now it’s I don’t know, City didn’t look that markedly different to me. It was just like City plus, you know, they they’ve now taken a tank and put like an extra gun on it. It’s he’s just more present than sort of the empty spaces that they’ve had in that spot before.

 

Jason Concepcion I mean, we as the people who’ve been kind of like wondering, well, how’s this going to work with with PEP, considering his history and his philosophy, are the people who’ve been wondering about that we just have that overblown? It’s not a it’s not a big deal. They’ll they’ll figure it out. I will say, you know, clearly from this game, whatever Holland’s, you know, the shakiness, the rustiness in the in the community shield game, there was a little bit of his teammates not knowing exactly how to find him. And it seemed certainly against West Ham.

 

Josh Robinson Which is crazy, because he’s nine feet tall.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. Yeah. I mean, he looks like a barbarian running through the middle. He looks you know, it looks like that was like the movie The Northman, like like running to raid a village somewhere. So we weren’t making too much of that.

 

Josh Robinson I think so. I mean, you know, we’ll learn more once the Champions League starts. I think that’s always the kind of at the same time, it’s the pep laboratory, but it’s also the thing that drives him the craziest. So we’ll see how he uses him in those roles where, you know, preparing for to face West Ham is ultimately pretty straightforward. If you have better players at every position, you know, you know how they’re going to set up. And that’s exactly what Holland is there for. And that’s going to be probably, you know, 25 games of of this campaign are going to look exactly like that.

 

Jason Concepcion Last season it came down to a thrilling final game of Liverpool and Manchester City of who would be sitting atop the table at the end of the season. And so let’s talk about Liverpool, who came up with a draw against a Fulham team that seems like they are going to be here to absolutely fight for every single point in the Premier League this season. Liverpool looked strangely disinterested to start the game. Your thoughts on this match?

 

Josh Robinson I thought, yeah, Liverpool are a little bit gassed.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Josh Robinson I don’t know if they’re still tired from the high rhythm they played last season and the maximum number of games that they played, you know, they went to the end of every competition, but I don’t know if that’s also delayed their preparation. I think there are also teams taking some gambles with pre-season and doing things differently with a view to the World Cup and you know, Liverpool, you know, the training ground is going to be empty for three weeks in November because all of those guys are going to the World Cup with one team or another. So they’re in a situation where, you know, it’s possible they got their physical preparation wrong and they’re going to be ready at a different time. That wasn’t last weekend.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah concerns at the back for Klopp.

 

Josh Robinson The first ever mistake by Virgil van Dijk yeah recorded human history yeah I mean but that’s I think that comes down again to not being physically 100% they just you know if the if the body’s not there 100%, they’re not going to be switched on either. And it was sloppy, which we’re not used to seeing from them.

 

Jason Concepcion Let’s talk about a team that should be gassed when when last we saw the Tottenham side, they were vomiting on the pitch after being run into seemingly their graves by Antonio Conte. And then Southampton came out and just got run over by this Tottenham squad who just got stronger and stronger and stronger seemingly as the game went on. I’m an Arsenal supporter, so I didn’t like to see this. I’m terrified of this. Your thoughts on on Tottenham?

 

Josh Robinson I think it’s it’s the the flip side of what we just discussed with Liverpool. I think we’re going to see some real fitness asymmetries at the top early in the season.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Josh Robinson Just because of how they’ve approached the split season, this idea that they’re going to have to kind of peak and then burn the best part of their season on the World Cup and their national teams and then be fit again to play. I believe the schedule calls for roughly a thousand games between December 26 and January 4th.

 

Jason Concepcion I mean, it’s not good. You know, it felt like when those videos and images emerged of Tottenham’s pre-season training and you see players laying about the pitch after having been made to run 500 sprints or some ridiculous number, it felt like we were turning the clock back to like 1997 or something like that. This can’t I think it’s great for now. Get that get that endurance up that clearly they had a sharper edge than than Southampton. But this is not good for the long haul, is it? It can’t be.

 

Josh Robinson Well, it’s it’s a throwback to 1997 in like SEC football. You know, it in 1997, the Premier League was people still puking because they were hung over.

 

Jason Concepcion Right. Right. And having a chippy at halftime.

 

Josh Robinson Yeah, exactly. So can it be good? I mean, the other thing about about Conte and Tottenham is they are so well-drilled. Yeah. For the first time in a long, long time I would say since Posh, everyone seems to know exactly what they’re doing on the pitch and you know what they’re doing most of the times running really hard, which is what that system requires. But if they can overwhelm teams like that, you know, there comes a point where if you do it in the first 70 minutes, you don’t need to do it in the last 20 minutes. So, you know, it’s kind of the twisted efficiency principle.

 

Jason Concepcion Okay. So we’ve talked about the Spurs and now it is time to talk about Arsenal. And it feels it feels like that game now has that match has taken place two weeks ago now, Arsenal to nail over Crystal Palace, a solid Crystal Palace team. Gabriel Jesus, making me, you know, see visions of the rapture in the first half. Didn’t score, but dancing through the defense in ways that I could only have imagined in my fevered dreams. Your thoughts on Arsenal? Big signings in the off season, adding to what was already a promising and talented young core that was clearly learning how to play Arteta out of excuses this season. One would expect your thoughts on Arsenal looking forward. Is there optimism for once?

 

Josh Robinson I thought they really played like their brains in their hearts were holding hands, which is the Arteta drawing from the new Amazon series and a management philosophy that I had not been familiar with.

 

Jason Concepcion But I want to say it just of the all or nothing Arsenal. I would almost at this point not know anything about Arteta’s coaching staff. I just I’m almost saddened that I watched some of it. I’ll just say that, but I’ll continue. I’m a fan of Arteta, as long as I don’t watch the series.

 

Josh Robinson Right. There were moments that were very British office. Yes, but no. I mean, it feels like and I know we’ve been here before with Arsenal in the past couple of years, with Arsenal, there have been moments like, you know, the FA Cup semifinals. Then, you know, it’s it feels like you can tweet every other week Arteta ball was here. And I think that was the feeling Friday but Jesus gives them something up front that they haven’t had in a while. You know, it really makes a difference to see someone out there who, one, cares which Aubameyang did not for a long time.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Josh Robinson And two, who has a level of crackling talent that Alex Lacazette for all the good work he did, never had. He just was never at that level.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Josh Robinson And we’re seeing a different kind of Jesus from the one we saw at City too. At City, he was really the guy on the end of things. And here seeing him just pick up the ball outside the box and drive drive into the to the six yard box was really unusual for him and and exciting. And there’s something about this Arsenal team that feels very good about, you know, and also at the back, you know, it’s not nothing that William Saliba was man of the match.

 

Jason Concepcion I could not agree more. Very, very excited by that. Again, as an Arsenal supporter who the defense has been called into question year after year after year after year, it seems. Any other thoughts on an opening window? What stood out to you, as a long time watcher of one of the most storied leagues in the world?

 

Josh Robinson I mean, really, I think Tottenham was the team that kind of popped.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. It’s unfortunate

 

Josh Robinson You know, in an unexpected way. And then, I mean, it’s interesting to see kind of a sputtering Chelsea as well. You know, they kind of labored against Everton, which, you know, Everton’s going to be in that battle to stay up again this year. And Chelsea just the ground out of a one nil win with a penalty and no striker.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah, a frankly boring match and absolutely silent in the park, it seemed, which was notable for that kind of like low energy there. Of course, Chelsea has been through, is going through, a lot of upheaval from last season and their kind of, you know, ownership structure. They just looked uninspired and completely lacking in a cutting edge. Do you see? You know, what do they have to offer in terms of solutions to this?

 

Josh Robinson Well, they’re still going to be active in the transfer market, I think, because Raheem Sterling, while he’s good at signing, is probably not enough to address all the needs they have. But the problem they have is that, you know, this American led group came in, took over the club and made the fundamental mistake that American led groups make when they take it with them. I was just thinking, they know about the Premier League and every time it’s going to do this differently, we’re going to be smarter. And then he appointed Todd Bailey, appoints himself sporting director in an interim way. So it’s it’s just not where you want to be with, you know, three weeks left in the transfer window and needing to make a big deal.

 

Jason Concepcion Oh, gosh. Anything else? Anything to look forward to as the season progresses? You know, I guess we would assume that it’s going to be City and Liverpool coming down the stretch again, which, you know, I don’t think this is going out on a limb here, but I, I expect City to turn back a spirited challenge from Liverpool as we go down the stretch here. But any surprises to look out for?

 

Josh Robinson I’m curious to see what happens with Newcastle. I don’t think they’re there in the challenging for the top European places yet, but they could be in that sort of Leicester or West Ham battle around six or seven. Sorry, Leicester, West Ham, Man United battle for sixth, seventh, there thereabouts. And I mean, I think I think we’re going to have a real battle for those Champions League places again, that Arsenal will be legitimately involved in.

 

Jason Concepcion If Arsenal do not make a Champions League place this season, Arteta out? Is that it? Or do or let’s say they show some real improvements and some real cohesiveness over the course of the season. Do we think he gets another shot at it if they don’t make a Champions League place?

 

Josh Robinson How far do they get in the Europa League?

 

Jason Concepcion Let’s say they get to the semifinals.

 

Josh Robinson It’s they’re going have to make a really big decision because they’ve been the biggest spenders.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Josh Robinson Or close to it in the past two summers. You know, Arteta can no longer blame anything. He can’t blame any holdovers from the Venga era or the Emery Era or, you know, the brief, unhappy reign of Freddie Ljungberg.

 

Jason Concepcion Josh, you’ve got a book coming out. Tell us about it.

 

Josh Robinson Yes, November 1st, it’s called Messi versus Ronaldo One Rivalry, Two Goats and the Era That Remade the World’s Game. And it’s a look at really how the past 15 years of soccer have been shaped by this rivalry that Messi and Ronaldo never really intended or control. And sometimes but but we know they were driven by it. And the ripple effects of their mere presence is incredible. And across all of soccer, I mean, you know, the business changed around them in terms of just, you know, yeah, I think for the first time we saw people becoming fans of players rather than clubs and people, you know, fan bases following these guys around. We saw it in particular with Ronaldo, but also clubs. You know, one of the most fascinating things to me was how they were not prepared for that level of genius and that longevity. And we’re seeing it play out with Barcelona right now. They mortgaged their entire future because they could not afford to be uncompetitive for a single season of Messi’s prime, which lasted like 15 years.

 

Jason Concepcion Obviously, as you just noted, the waves of their impact continue to wash up. Barsa restructured their various debts over the off season in ways that I don’t know, it seems like if you’re already in financial trouble, borrowing more money to immediately send it out the door at after players is maybe not the wisest. And then we’re seeing you kind of again stage Ronaldo and what that looks like at united take us back where do you, you stack up the two against each other? Who’s number one and who’s number 1A?

 

Josh Robinson Well, all of it depends on how you measure, right? If you’re measuring Ballon d’Or, it’s going to be Messi, obviously. And if you’re counting goals, it’s Ronaldo. And that’s what’s kind of at the heart of when their rivalry became bigger than them. It’s the question of you don’t just pick a camp. Which camp you pick says something about your entire worldview and what matters to you and how you view football. You know, is it about winning or is it about playing beautifully? Are you into the cult of Ronaldo personality or are you into this guy who presents himself as the ultimate team player but is also a maniac? And they appear so different? And I think one of the things that surprised me the most in working on the book was realizing how similar they are. They’re both at heart competitive monsters who at times make everyone around them better and at times can bring entire clubs to their knees.

 

Jason Concepcion And I’m struck by in this, you know, this Titanic competition between two of the most iconic athletes we’ve ever seen, how almost like a blank slate, their feelings for each other or about each other are. Did any of that emerge in your research?

 

Josh Robinson Well, it’s funny. I mean, we heard about little things from people close to Ronaldo, for instance, who told us that Ronaldo’s kid, Cristiano Jr adores Messi and that, you know, by and large, there is no there doesn’t seem to be much ill will. You know, the story, as funny as it is that appealing as it is that you cannot say Messi’s name in Ronaldo’s presence is sadly apocryphal. But, you know, that’s why a few years ago I think it was at a UFO awards show. They were sitting next to each other. And, you know, Ronaldo said that they’d never been out for a meal together. And this thing has been viewed, by the way, on YouTube, because I looked, 60 million times. And it’s because, like, people want to project something onto them and they want to project either a hatred or friendship or something in between. And it turns out these are just two guys going about their business.

 

Jason Concepcion I’m excited to read this Josh, for real. Two most legendary athletes we’ve ever seen. And I think we’re we’re only beginning to grapple with how incredible it was that we got to watch them at the same time. He is Josh Robinson of The Wall Street Journal. Josh, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Josh Robinson Thanks so much for having me.

 

Jason Concepcion Can the Lakers possibly open the season with Russell Westbrook on their roster? Can that happen? Is it wise for that to happen? They finished 33 of 49 last season. And of course, all the drama in the off season as the Lakers seem determined to move Russell Westbrook, who equally seems determined to go. To help us unpack all of this is Trevor Lane, host of Lakers Nation and NBA Front Office. Trevor, welcome to Takeline, wonderful to have you.

 

Trevor Lane Oh, thank you so much for having me.

 

Jason Concepcion Wonderful to meet you face to face for the first time in this fashion. Over over a zoom call. So rumors surfaced via Hoops Hype. It’s hard in the you know in today’s sports media landscape sometimes to like pull the string, pull the aggregator string and find the root of of like some of these rumors. But I think it’s I think it’s Hoops Hype that first came with a proposed three team trade supposedly proffered by the Lakers. Utah would send Donovan Mitchell to the Knicks a combination of two players, including Patrick Beverley and Jordan Clarkson, Boban Bojan Bogdanovic or Malik Beasley to the Lakers and the Jazz would receive significant draft compensation from the Knicks and Lakers. Of course, Danny Ainge loves those draft picks. Your thoughts on this rumored deal?

 

Trevor Lane I mean, I think it’s kind of combining a few different rumors that have been out there. I mean, we’ve heard the Lakers talking with the Knicks. We’ve heard them talking with the jazz. The Jazz obviously talking with the Knicks on a Donovan Mitchell deal. Why not just add everybody together, make them make it one big party, have some have some fun. I when I look at this trade, it makes some sense then that the Jazz aren’t trying to necessarily win games this season. They’re going to be in the victor one Bojan sweepstakes. That’s what seems to be their their goal here, in addition to adding as many draft picks as they can. But if you look at what they’d be potentially sending to the Lakers, it’s not terrible. As far as a fallback plan goes, you could add, you know, Patrick Beverley give you some defense, a little bit of three point shooting, at least respectability there. And then let’s say Bojan Bogdanovic, you get a guy who can shoot we certainly know this Lakers roster needs that and maybe the most important piece Russell Westbrook would be somewhere else and the Jazz would be taking on that salary. So there there is some sense to it but you know, whenever you start adding in three teams, four teams, it just becomes that much more difficult to actually get a deal done. Not to mention trading with Danny Ainge is never an easy proposition.

 

Jason Concepcion No. And I think that the I can’t help but notice when reading this rumor that. This is a hamburger with no burger, because what Danny Ainge wants, we know, isn’t necessarily the players. He doesn’t he doesn’t want anybody good that could potentially help them win even one game. He wants the picks. He wants the picks. And we’re and it’s unclear exactly what that draft compensation would be. There have been rumors that he’s been asking for as many as four unprotected picks from the Knicks. Of course, the Knicks, gladly I say as a Knicks fan, who has seen many crazy things happen over the years, gladly, it seems as if Leon Rose is playing the long game and is not going to give up the farm in terms of picks, understanding that they do have some leverage here. What can the Lakers do, thinking, you know, under those terms to move Russell Westbrook? They’ve seemed kind of unwilling to part with too many picks but it kind of seems like, folks, you’re going to have to do it.

 

Trevor Lane Yeah. I mean, I think that’s where people are starting to look at the the upcoming training camp starting off as maybe a soft deadline where the Lakers are going to have to really make a decision here. They’ve been trying to hold the their ground and say, now, look, if we’re going to trade Russell Westbrook, we’re going to give up either the 2027 or 2029 first round pick. We’ll throw in some second rounders, things like that to kind of, you know, sweeten the pot. But we’re not going to do both. We’re not going to do two first round picks and most opposing teams, and you know, this is rightfully so. Look at it as you got to pay us one first round pick for Russell Westbrook and then if we’re going to give you stuff back, if we’re going to take on Russell Westbrook, then we’re going to give you back stuff of value, whether it’s Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, the pieces from the Jazz, whatever. That’s also going to cost a first round pick. So we’re only going to do this if we get to first. And the belief is that the Lakers will ultimately blink and the Lakers are hoping that some other team out there will blink. Maybe it’s the Brooklyn Nets. I think that’s probably top of the list is to try to get something done for Kyrie Irving. They’re also waiting on that. But right now it’s a staring contest and the thought is that maybe, maybe training camp coming up will force action on one side or the other.

 

Jason Concepcion Darvin Ham, new coach Darvin Ham has has done nothing but say supportive and praiseful things about Russell Westbrook. You know, as they as we head into a, you know the weeks leading up to training camp talking about how, you know, he’s sick. I can’t wait to feature Russ the things he wants him to do, etc. He’s excited about what Russ could bring to the team. And kind of the subtext of all that is, you know, as long as Russ more effectively molds himself to a team concept, i.e., maybe play a little defense, maybe set some screens, maybe do some stuff off ball, which Russ over the course of his career and you know, the numbers on this are out there and you can and are kind of funny has Russ has never really done you know the lowest I think screen setter per game for a player who had enough minutes to be on that list. Is there a world in which Darvin Ham, the Lakers, make this work? Like, is there a world in which Russ goes you know what? I know I have resisted doing all of this stuff for my entire career, but actually now I’m going to do it.

 

Trevor Lane I mean, if, if there was ever a time when it was going to happen because we’ve been talking about this for years with Russell Westbrook. Right.

 

Jason Concepcion Years, legitimately years.

 

Trevor Lane I mean, really, that’s that’s what it’s been. I mean, we’ve been hearing for so long, oh, Russ is going to be a slasher this year and he’s going to set all these screens and he’s got to limit himself to just corner threes. All these things that Darvin Ham is asking him to do it. This isn’t new.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Trevor Lane This isn’t new information or anything. But Russ is a free agent next summer. Now, he’s getting paid $47 million this year. So you can look at it, say, well, he has $47 million to continue being Russell Westbrook and to continue doing the things that he’s done. But at some point, I don’t know if Russell is here or not, but at some point every star player has to either make that transition into no longer being that star player or not. And for Russ, that might mean accepting being off the ball a little bit more, doing the screening, doing all that. And I, I don’t know what free agency will look like for him next summer if we see a repeat of this past season. So I think there is some incentive for change here. And look, Darvin Ham, if you listen to the guy speak, oh my gosh, you just want to run through a brick wall for the guy just listening to you. I mean, he’s he’s amazing, so.

 

Jason Concepcion Absolutely.

 

Trevor Lane Given the circumstances, just the context, it feels like if it was ever going to happen, it’s now. And if it was never going to happen for anybody, you do it for Darvin Ham. But again, I’m skeptical because we’ve never seen Russell Westbrook do it and we’ve been saying it for years now. So until I see it happen, I’m going to be skeptical that it actually can work and that is actually going to take place.

 

Jason Concepcion We were just speaking to Josh Robinson of the Wall Street Journal about the EPL and soccer in general. And we were talking about Barcelona and the way that they, you know, I think naturally mortgaged their short term, medium term and long term future in order to hold on to Leo Messi, one of the most magnificent and bright stars in all of sports. Similar to that, to the Lakers, they have LeBron James. It resulted in a championship. It was the bubble championship, which people will try to deride, but that’s legit. Everybody played in the bubble. The entire world was going through that. But they also have some decisions to make with LeBron because of an extension perhaps going forward. Has this all been worth it? Has it all been has it all been worth it? You got one championship out of it and then kind of a lot of turmoil. And of course, all the kind of requisite attention that LeBron brings in the spotlight being incredibly hot and bright. And I think we can say that, you know, perhaps Russell Westbrook is withered under the under the glare of that spotlight. Has this all been worth it in your mind?

 

Trevor Lane Yeah. I mean, we just had what I’ve called the worst season in Lakers history in terms of fan experience. That was that was awful, just watching those games on a nightly basis. But that being said, yeah, it was worth it. You got a championship out of it. And that’s sometimes where I see a lot of Lakers fans will say, Well, you know, it’s only one championship only. Are you kidding me? You know how difficult it is to win even one championship? You got a championship. It was successful. There was always going to be a point where the bill was going to come due, right? Where all these picks that you gave away to get Anthony Davis, that was going to start to be an issue where the young players that you traded away, some of those guys were just naturally going to progress, they were going to grow. And at some point you’re going to look around you to go, Oh, man, hey, Brandon Ingram is pretty damn good now, right? But

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Trevor Lane You won a championship. You’ve got that. You’ve maybe the bill has been a little bit higher than what you expected. That pain has been a little bit greater, particularly if you look at last season. But again, ultimately you got a championship out of it. So it’s it’s hard to it’s hard to look at it and say, oh, no, it’s it’s not worth it. Had they not won that championship, we’d be singing a different tune. But with that title in the books, yeah, I think it was worth it.

 

Jason Concepcion Jeanie Buss tweeted a kind of cryptic tweet a few weeks back, now just about kind of lamenting the passing of Kobe and what he meant to the team. And it seemed like the subtext of that was, you know, we will never see the likes of this kind of Laker again. That seemed particularly portentous again as we move into a time when a decision on LeBron is going to have to be made by both parties, do you have any thoughts on what that and what the Lakers should do here? And, you know, it seems like there’s a lot of politicking on both sides, whether it’s like, you know, LeBron posting pictures of himself and Bronny, you know, Jeanie making the statements that she has made. Like what? What’s going to happen here? What should happen.

 

Trevor Lane I think what the Lakers would like to happen is, is them come to an agreement on an extension. They’d like to get something like that done with LeBron James, keep them around as long as they can. They have positioned themselves as a franchise that is friendly to superstars for years now. Let me go back to Kobe when he tore his Achilles and Lakers gave him a huge contract. That’s that’s something they’ve been trying to cultivate as far as their their image goes. And so I think they would like to continue that. They don’t want to be seen as the franchise that they gave up on a player or try to lowball LeBron James or anything like that. The Lakers, from their side of things, have been pretty adamant that Jeanie was not trying to subjugate anybody with what you put out there, that it was really just about Kobe Bryant. She was feeling sad at the moment, missing Kobe. And, you know, that’s again, that’s going to be their own take on it. But I think continuing this with LeBron for the time being makes the most sense. Injuries derailed quite a bit of of last season for him and maybe that should be expected given his age. But when he was on the floor, he was performing at a very, very high level. He was perhaps in the and an MVP caliber way from what we saw of him on the floor. Had the Lakers been in a better situation in terms of their record, he probably would have been in those conversations. He wouldn’t won it. But he was up there. He was playing extremely well last season. So with that being the case, it’s LeBron James. It’s the brightest star in the league. You got to try to continue this for as long as you can. And right now you’ve got the over 38 rule, which means we’re really only talking about know the difference between an extension and no extension. We’re probably talking about a one plus one extension deal with a player option so that he can go play with Bronny in 2024 if if that ends up taking place. So we’re talking about a year probably that we would have guaranteed with with the Lakers. And if that’s the case, you’re not talking about a five year deal with LeBron or anything like that. I think you try to get the extension done, you keep it rolling and you do what you can do to win around one of the the all time greats.

 

Jason Concepcion What do we need to see from Anthony Davis this season? I think, you know, we all know about Anthony Davis, his injury history. He’s in and out of lineups from his time going back to New Orleans. But when he’s healthy, it’s always like, oh, he’s back. The impact is there. You know, over the years when Anthony Davis is on the court coming off of injury, it’s like, Oh, yeah, this guy’s one of the best players in the league. I think last season was the first time I was like, Ooh, the shooting is weirdly not there. What’s going on? The defense not quite as sharp as we’ve seen in the past. What what kind of Anthony Davis do we need to see from going into the 2022-2023 season?

 

Trevor Lane I mean, the number one key, like you said, it’s it’s health. Yeah, right. I mean, he’s got to be able to stay on the floor at least a reasonable amount of games. I mean, you’re talking if he’s on the floor 70 games, that’s a that’s a win, you’ll take that. There’s obviously going to be some load management and things like that in there. But that that first and foremost is the most important thing. Can he stay on on the basketball court? And then from there, what you want to see is you want to get Anthony Davis closer to what you saw in the bubble in Orlando. No, not necessarily shooting. He was on a hot shooting streak in Orlando.

 

Jason Concepcion Yes.

 

Trevor Lane I don’t think he can ever hit those percentages again. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect him to do that. He was shooting like 85% from three or so, not really. But but still, he felt like everything he was putting up was going in and he was on an incredibly hot shooting streak. I’m not anticipating that. But he needs to be respectable behind the three point line. That’s certainly part of his game drop to 18% from three last season. That can’t happen again. He’s got to be above 30%. And then you want to see that versatility really come into play on the defensive end of the floor. That’s what’s always made Anthony Davis great is that you got guard defensive capabilities and that he could slide his feet and stick with just about anybody in the league despite being, you know, what, seven foot and having the crazy wingspan and be able to block shots and protect the rim and all that. So if that’s what makes Anthony Davis great, that’s what we need to see again. We need to see that that all world defender. That’s what’s going to really try to be the backbone of this Lakers defense, which is what Darvin Ham has already already hinted at. And they’re going to need him healthy, they’re going to need him active, and they’re going to need him mobile out there, which means I think we saw him put on a little bit of muscle this last season, getting ready to play the five. I think it’s time to go back to the leaner, meaner Anthony Davis this season and see if they can get that quickness back, see if they can get the explosiveness, the timing, all of that. Keep him healthy on the floor, let him do what he does on the defensive end, and then hope that there’s some positive regression in terms of the outside shooting numbers. That’s really what you need to see. And I know that that’s a lot. I just listed off a lot of things.

 

Jason Concepcion That is a lot of other things.

 

Trevor Lane But but let’s face it, that’s that’s what the Lakers need if they’re going to have a successful season.

 

Jason Concepcion There’s been some Andy Davis trade rumors out there again this time of year. It’s very, very hard to like figure out what the origins of these things are. Sometimes it’s just like some person with a Twitter account is like Lakers looking to trade Davis. It doesn’t actually make sense, right, to trade Anthony Davis? It doesn’t make any sense.

 

Trevor Lane No. No, I don’t think so. I think that he’s he’s too important to what they do and his ceiling is simply so much higher than anything that they would get back. I don’t think there’s anything to get back in the trade and say, oh, you just increased your chances of winning a championship. You’re really just trying to hedge your bet on an injury there. If you’re if you’re going to move Anthony Davis, his ceiling is high enough to where you just you roll the dice, you stick with it, and you do what you can to keep him healthy. Is that trading him right now doesn’t make sense. Teams aren’t going to give what they would have a couple of seasons ago before he had all these injury issues.

 

Jason Concepcion Trevor, look into your crystal ball and tell us what happens, what will happen with Russell Westbrook? What will happen with this Lakers team? How do they improve this team as we head into, you know, a really important season with LeBron James, you know, at an age where it’s actually incredible that he keeps performing at this level and you wait for it to change any minute. What’s going to happen?

 

Trevor Lane I think they do ultimately move Russell Westbrook some time before training camp starts up. Obviously it’s not, you know, Lakers fans were waiting for it to happen, you know, July 5th or whatever, like hoping it will be taking place here without, oh, Rob’s meeting with people at summer league. It’s going to happen. I think it will happen sometime before training camp. It just makes too much sense for them to clear the air and move on. What deal? It feels like the Pacers deal is probably the closest one right now, but there’s lots of other options out there and it takes one phone call to change these these negotiations. So we’ll see what ultimately happens. But I think they do move him. As far as where the Lakers go from here, I’m assuming that you just try to add some better fitting pieces. And if you don’t wind up doing a Kyrie Irving deal, you can’t find that. You just try to add some better fitting pieces, some shooting, some defense on the wing. They added a bunch of young players. There’s nobody that really pops off the screen at you where you go, Oh my gosh, they got this guy. This is going to be fantastic. So I think this team realistically looking at the Western Conference and how improved the Western Conference is going to be this season was very forgiving last season. Not going to be the case this coming season. I see them as a middle of the pack playoff team in the Western Conference and I think if they if they get into the playoffs, then best case scenario, you’ve got LeBron, you’ve got A.D. If they’re both healthy, you’ve got a puncher’s chance against just about anybody. But I certainly wouldn’t be projecting that they’ll be the favorites to come out of the West or win a championship or anything like that.

 

Jason Concepcion Trevor, where can folks find your stuff?

 

Trevor Lane Yeah, you can find most of my my work over at the Lakers Nation YouTube channel as well as the LakersNation.com podcast, which is over on Apple Podcasts. Wherever that you listen to podcasts over written work goes up over at LakersNation.com and you can follow me personally @Trevor_Lane on Twitter, @TrevorLaneNBA on Instagram.

 

Jason Concepcion Trevor, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Trevor Lane Hey, thank you so much for having me.

 

Jason Concepcion Let me ask you this, Zuri?

 

Zuri Irvin Yeah.

 

Jason Concepcion Would you welcome Julius Randle back with open arms?

 

Zuri Irvin He was a great player in his tenure with the Lakers, at least in the last few months before we shipped him off. I’m also kind of excited about Jordan Clarkson. I know this deal is not going to happen, but like the energy that Clarkson would bring.

 

Jason Concepcion One of the greatest Filipino basketball players who has ever lived.

 

Zuri Irvin Hands down, still a great three point shooter. We’re just not going to care about how  Long range shooting is sort of dissipated and like, why not just bring in some actual shooters? My thing, though, with LeBron is that there aren’t a lot of really big names in the 2023 free agent class. There’s Wiggins, D’Angelo, Vucevic,  Harrison Barnes, Jerami Grant. It’s not really that appetizing. So I’m starting to come back to like, okay, let’s, let’s try this again. So we’ll see.

 

Jason Concepcion You know, Wiggins would be like if Julius was on the market right after he had his great two seasons ago with the Knicks because Wiggins is a guy who like, do you believe that he can do this right out of the context of the Golden State Warriors? I’m not. To be honest. Sure I am.

 

Zuri Irvin A lot of guys look better playing with four Hall of Famers with a good head coach. So. Yeah.

 

Jason Concepcion Do you have any hope for Russ? Do you think he can? Like, you know, obviously we’re, you know, tracking the the Brooklyn Nets Kyrie-KD issues and it seems like there. I would not at all be shocked and in fact expect the Nets to roll the ball out with those two guys on the floor just trying to figure it out. Like, do you have any hope that the Lakers can figure it out?

 

Zuri Irvin My hope for Russ, is that he puts together a great three months and the beginning of the season and might come trade deadline, the market is different. I don’t have a lot of hope that he becomes a set shooter or that he becomes this guy that wants to come off the bench. And I do like the Reeves-THC combination. I think there’s a little juice left there, but my thing with Russis just play well. Just just be a chip and let’s not trade him now. It’s trade him when there’s some value there. But overall, I’m sad. I’m just sad that he came home and it’s just hasn’t been fun.

 

Jason Concepcion It is actually been sad, like for a guy who, you know, is obviously from the area, played his college ball in the area, was so delighted to come home. It can’t feel great to have this happen and I feel badly about that. It’s not fun. It’s not fun to watch for sure, even though I do, do, you know, hearing you say, Hey, Austin Reeves just makes me think, you know, how the mighty of fun.

 

Zuri Irvin Well, we haven’t had a great lineage of, like, dominant point guards in the last 20 years. I’ve been watching them. It’s really Derek Fisher and the rest. So my, I don’t know, I’m never like, we need we need Kyrie or we need, like a ball dominant guard to have a championship.

 

Jason Concepcion Let’s get the triangle back.

 

Zuri Irvin Yeah, exactly.

 

Jason Concepcion Let’s get the triangle off of it.

 

Zuri Irvin Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re right. This is a sad conversation.

 

Jason Concepcion Well, again, I’m wishing you the best because I care about your well-being. Thank you. And we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens with the Lakers. It’ll be fun to talk about no matter what.

 

Zuri Irvin That’s right. Go Knicks. Go Lakers.

 

Jason Concepcion That’s it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to subscribe to X-ray Vision, my pop culture show on YouTube. Check it out, folks. Goodbye, Arsenal top of the league. Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Ryan Wallerson and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard. Engineering, editing and Sound Design by the great Sarah Dubalaska and the folks at Chapter Four. And our theme music is produced by Brian Vasquez. Mia Kelman is on the Zoom for vibes, and the vibes are fantastic all the time.