Jul 02, 2022
Lakers Weigh Plan B for $87 Million Shooter Rockets Veteran: Insider
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Getty Eric Gordon, left, is a Lakers trade target
The Lakers have made a concerted effort to add youth and athleticism here in the early going of NBA free agency, bringing young guys who still have high ceilings of potential, like Juan Toscano-Anderson and Lonnie Walker IV, along with former L.A. center Damian Jones and ex-Bulls wing Troy Brown Jr.
But they still need a boost in overall talent, especially when it comes to shooting. The Lakers made 34.7% of their 3-pointers last year, which was just 22nd in the league and far too few for a team with dominant offensive forces like LeBron James and Anthony Davis. While the crew of new players represents a shift toward youth, it does not represent a shift toward better shooting—those four new Lakers shot 34.1% from the 3-point line in their collective careers.Play
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That’s why, according to ESPN team insider Dave McMenamin, the Lakers still have some “Plan B” options to consider going forward, especially if L.A. can’t bring in Kyrie Irving from the Nets. And both Plan Bs are big-time shooters.Hield, Gordon Part of Lakers’ Backup Plan
Speaking on NBA Today (via LakersNation.com), McMenamin said that the Lakers could go after one-time target Buddy Hield, now with the Pacers, as well as Rockets veteran Eric Gordon. Here’s how he put it:
If Kyrie doesn’t work out, they have plans in place, or plans they hope they’ll be able to execute, to achieve shooting on that roster in other directions. Whether that be a veteran like Buddy Hield, who they almost got on last year on draft day and you see Indiana just traded away Malcolm Brogdon and there could be more moves to come, or perhaps a guy like Eric Gordon in Houston. Those guys aren’t Kyrie Irving, of course, but they are players they feel they may be able to acquire to help their team.
L.A., of course, almost acquired Hield last offseason from Sacramento in a potential trade based around Kyle Kuzma. But the Lakers pivoted late in the process, and brought in Russell Westbrook instead, a mistake that hurt the team all last season.Hield in Midst of $87 Million Contract
Hield is the better option, a 29-year-old wing who can be a bit of a wildcard off the floor—he ticked off many of the folks in Sacramento in his tenure there—and boasts a 39.8% career 3-point percentage. He made only 36.6% from the 3-point stripe last year, though, and does not fit well with Indiana’s long-term building plan.
Hield is entering the third year of an incentive-laden four-year contract extension worth $87 million that works on a descending value scale, so that this year will see him make $20.5 million and next year has him at $18.5 million. He would be tough to get from the Pacers without the addition of a third team—the only way to make salaries match would be for the Lakers to send out Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn, plus bench players Wenyen Gabriel, Austin Reaves and Stanley Johnson.
The Pacers might insist on getting back a first-round pick for Hield.
Bringing in Gordon would be easier for the Lakers, because he makes slightly less ($19.5 million) and would be easier for salary-matching purposes. The Lakers could give up Horton-Tucker and Nunn, along with one other player (Gabriel, Johnson or Reaves) to get a deal done.
The Lakers might not have to give up a pick, either, for Gordon, who is 33 and struggles to stay healthy, having missed 70 games in the past two seasons. Gordon did shoot 41.2% from the 3-point line when he was on the floor last season.
News Source: Heavy.com
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Falcons Young Defender Looks Far Better Than Last Year: Report
Getty Atlanta Falcons safety Richie Grant.
The Atlanta Falcons added to their secondary during the 2021 NFL Draft when they selected versatile safety Richie Grant in the second round out of the University of Central Florida.
However, Grant ended up playing primarily at nickel cornerback after Isaiah Oliver’s season-ending knee injury in Week 4. It was not a foreign position for him but for an NFL rookie, the job was a lot and he struggled.
Now, Grant enters year 2 of his rookie contract and is back to focusing on the safety position, which has been working out in his favor, according to the team’s Digital Editor Scott Bair.
“Last year’s second-round pick has had a quality start to camp and seems in line to start at one of the safety spots,” Bair wrote in his latest column. “He’s playing confident and showing a competitive streak on the back end. He’s communicating well with the cornerbacks and the defensive front. While there’s still a ton to prove, Grant looks like a far better player than he was a year ago. He’s also more comfortable. That’s huge.”
For your own eyes, here’s a clip of Grant picking off quarterback Marcus Mariota:
Easy ???? for Richie [email protected] pic.twitter.com/0XD1RJvQss
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Join Heavy on Falcons!Why the Falcons Drafted Grant in 2021
Grant’s versatility to play various positions in the secondary was certainly the main reason Atlanta was eyeing him in the draft in the first place. However, his leadership skills while playing at UCF were even more appealing in defensive coordinator Dean Pees’s eyes.
Pees made it clear earlier this year to the young defender that he shouldn’t be afraid to use his voice because of his rookie status.
“I told him early on, ‘That’s not why we drafted you. We drafted you because when you were at Central Florida you were a take-charge guy. We need that,'” he said via team reporter Tori McElhaney.
Grant finished the 2021 season playing in a total 16 games (0 starts) with 35 tackles, one forced fumble and fumble recovery and two passes defended. He played 192 snaps at slot corner and gave up 19 catches on 24 targets (79.2 reception percentage) for a total of 202 yards and an overall defensive PFF grade of 56.8.
While Grant didn’t play the position he was originally drafted for, he couldn’t have been more grateful for the way things turned out in the end.
“I thank my coaches for that, for putting me in that position because it just helped me grow as a leader,” Grant said. “… Just getting comfortable making the call, that I am not wrong in this call.”Grant Stayed True to His Rookie ‘Dog’ Promise
Prior to heading to the NFL, Grant started all but one of 10 games for UCF in 2020 and recorded 72 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and a QB hit. He was also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, a prestigious award given to College Football’s top defensive back.
In four seasons with the Knights, the six-foot, 194-pounds safety totaled 291 tackles, 29 pass breakups, 10 interceptions, 11.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles.
When asked post-draft what the Falcons were getting in him, Grant said, “A dog. Pure and sweet. You’re going to get a dog. I’m ready to work. I never thought this could happen, but I’m forever grateful to the Atlanta organization for taking that chance on me. You are about to get a playmaker. A leader on and off the field.”
To no surprise, Grant had a hard time adjusting at the NFL level in Pees’s defensive scheme. He wasn’t viewed as a big playmaker last year but he did become a leader as he grew more comfortable.
And all thanks to the “dog” in him, he’s on tap to start at one of the safety spots in 2022.
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