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Las Vegas Summer League kicked off on Friday night and the game between the Lakers and Clippers was the headliner. The building was packed to see how No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, Lonzo Ball, would mesh with his new team. That included D’Angelo Russell, the guy the Lakers traded away so they could rebuild with Ball instead.
The clock will be ticking loudly. George is in the final year of his contract and the Lakers have cap space waiting for him. Westbrook has one year left before an opt-out and an extension to consider. Presti couldn’t let another MVP go without a fight and so while this is a swing for the fences move, the potential rewards far outweigh the risks. Those are the choices you have to make with a top-5 player.
Shedding Victor Oladipo’s burdensome contract in the process was already a win in terms of roster construction, and securing the ultra-useful Patrick Patterson on the cheap was slick. Defensive ace Andre Roberson looks a lot better on the wing with two premium All-Stars around him. The Thunder have gone from a middle-of-the-pack playoff team to one with a puncher’s chance against anyone in the West.
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The Nuggets, meanwhile, have been looking to make a big splash for years. They’ve been a stalking horse for several major players in recent years, but haven’t been able to close the deal. They went after Dwyane Wade in free agency last summer and worked their way into discussions on a George trade.