Aug 06, 2022
MATCHDAY: Man City begins EPL title defense at West Ham
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A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
Striker Erling Haaland is set to make his Premier League debut for Manchester City at West Ham. City will be without defender Aymeric Laporte for the start of its league title defense. Laporte had knee surgery and could be sidelined for a month.West Ham’s new signings aren’t ready to debut. Striker Gianluca Scamacca isn’t fit enough yet and defender Nayef Aguerd has a knee injury. Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been coy about whether Cristiano Ronaldo will appear when they host Brighton. Ronaldo has been public about wanting to leave but ten Hag has been equally insistent about keeping him. Ten Hag said, “Cristiano is working really tough and hard.” Leicester, home to Brentford, was the only league club not to sign anyone new this summer, and neither will they replace two key injuries from last week’s friendly win against Sevilla. Portugal defender Ricardo Pereira ruptured his Achilles and is out for six months and winger Harvey Barnes will be out for a few weeks with a knee issue. Departed captain Kasper Schmeichel won’t be replaced either. Danny Ward and Daniel Iversen will fight over the goalkeeper start. Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans is the new captain.
Promoted Schalke visits Cologne for its first game back in the Bundesliga after its season in the second division. Schalke has a new coach in Frank Kramer after club great Michael Büskens steered it back into the top division with seven wins from his eight games in charge. Whether Kramer enjoys a similar success rate remains to be seen after an offseason of signings and departures at the cash-strapped club. Cash is no problem for Leipzig, which visits Stuttgart for the early game. Leipzig, which finished fourth last season, last week signed Germany defender David Raum for a reported 26 million euros ($26.5 million) from Hoffenheim.
Marseille, Rennes and Nice are among the contenders for a top-three finish. Marseille hosts Reims, Rennes plays Lorient, and Nice visits promoted Toulouse. Igor Tudor has big shoes to fill after replacing Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli, who left Marseille this summer reportedly because of a disagreement with the club’s recruitment strategy. Marseille heavily relied on Dimitri Payet to create and score goals so the arrival of Colombian striker Luis Suarez from Granada could alleviate Payet’s burden. Hoping to qualify for the Champions League, Rennes has signed Wales international Joe Rodon on loan from Tottenham and Belgian defender Arthur Theate from Bologna for a reported fee of 20 million euros to make up for the departure of Morocco center back Nayef Aguerd to West Ham. Nice has replaced coach Christophe Galtier with a familiar face, Lucien Favre, who led the club to a third-place finish in 2017. Nice’s recruitment policy has been ambitious with the signing of Wales international Aaron Ramsey from Juventus and Romanian winger Rares Ilie from Rapid Bucharest to help out Andy Delort and Amine Gouiri up front. At the back, Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has replaced Walter Benitez, who joined PSV Eindhoven, while promising center back Mattia Viti from Empoli will be an alternative to an aging Dante.
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Proposed Trade Lands Lakers $20 Million Star Big Man
Getty Lakers GM Rob Pelinka (left) and head coach Darvin Ham at Ham's introductory press conference
The Los Angeles Lakers signed Lonnie Walker IV and Damian Jones in unrestricted free agency over the summer, meaning both players can’t be traded until December. Walker IV and Jones are solid role players who could help the Lakers, but Heavy’s Sean Deveney has a trade idea involving the Orlando Magic that Los Angeles should strongly consider.
In an October 4th piece called “Ex-Heat Favorite, Former Top-6 Pick Lead Execs’ List of ‘Quiet’ Trade Targets,” Deveney proposed that the Lakers trade Walker IV, Jones and a first-round pick in 2027 to the Magic for Mo Bamba. Los Angeles needs a shot-blocking center who can also do some damage on offense around All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis and Bamba fits that bill.
“I thought it was a steal and a really smart thing they (Orlando) did by signing him, giving him ($10.3) million, (plus) an option for next year,” an Eastern Conference executive told Deveney. “That is very, very friendly to the team. He could be a really big commodity this winter or next summer. I think if you are a team like the Lakers and you’ve been so careful with the two picks they have (2027 and 2029), a young player like Bamba, that is why you save those picks if he becomes available.”
The Magic drafted Bamba with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Texas. The New York native has career averages of 7.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 47.5% from the field, 35.2% from beyond the arc and 68.5% from the free-throw line.
Bamba signed a two-year, $20.6 million contract with Orlando in July, so he can’t be traded until January.Bamba Could Fit Well with LeBron & Davis
Bamba had his best season in 2021-22, finishing with averages of 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.7 blocks. The 24-year-old could start alongside James and Davis since he can protect the rim and space the floor. Bamba blocked 118 shots and made 107 3-pointers last season for the Magic.
Having a center who can protect the paint and space the floor is extremely helpful in the modern game and Bamba has proved that he can block shots at a high rate and hit open 3-pointers. The Lakers gave up 115.1 points per game last season, which was 28th of 30 in the NBA, and had a defensive rating of 113.3, 21st of 30. Los Angeles also ranked 22nd in the NBA in 3-point shooting, hitting only 34.7% of its team attempts.
When Bamba goes beyond the arc to shoot 3-pointers, he’s bringing his defender out of the paint, which creates more driving lanes for players to attack the basket. His presence would benefit Russell Westbrook, James and Davis.
“There was some surprise when the Magic quickly re-signed Bamba this summer, despite the fact that they have Wendell Carter Jr., drafted Paolo Banchero and are said to be intrigued by giving playing time to big man Bol Bol,” Deveney wrote. “But Bamba will be eminently tradeable when he is eligible in January, a blossoming 24-year-old big man who is finally showing his shooting touch. If he builds on last season (10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 38.1% 3-point shooting) he will be a high-value target at the deadline. Because he got a raise with his new contract, Bamba can’t be traded until January.”LeBron’s Friend Wanted Lakers to Pursue Bamba
Social media sensation Cuffs The Legend, who is James’ friend and an NBA analyst, wanted the Lakers to pursue Bamba over the summer. Bamba and James have a little bit of a rapport since the Magic star was on LeBron’s HBO show, “The Shop,” in 2018.
Lakers should go after Mo Bamba
— 73-9 and THEY LIED (@CuffsTheLegend) May 18, 2022
The Lakers started Kendrick Nunn, Westbrook, James, Davis and Jones in their first preseason game against the Sacramento Kings. If Los Angeles acquired Bamba, new head coach Darvin Ham could replace Jones with Bamba in the starting lineup.
Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka told reporters during media day that he will do everything in his power to make the roster better around James, who signed a two-year extension with the purple and gold in August.
“Let me be abundantly clear: We have one of the great players in LeBron James to ever play the game and he committed to us on a long-term contract, a three-year contract,” Pelinka said. “So of course, we will do everything we can, picks included, to make deals to give us a chance to help LeBron get to the end. He committed to our organization. That’s got to be a bilateral commitment and it’s there.”