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Blogtable: Which non-playoff team has brightest future for next season?

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Steve Aschburner:  Got to go with the Lakers, both for the talent they already have on board and the free agents they’re positioned to woo this summer. Frankly, one of their biggest challenges may be sorting out what they have vs. what they want, because the core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle and Lonzo Ball could develop nicely on its own merits. But Magic Johnson isn’t going to dawdle.

Tas Melas:  The Lakers. Their young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Julius Randle have been playing well beyond their years. For such a young bunch to rank 12th defensively is very impressive (as my man John Schuhmann details with some stats below). Regardless if a superstar joins them via free agency, I’m most excited about the ceiling of their young players over any other lottery team because three of the guys I mentioned are rookies, and Ingram’s only a second-year guy. They do not look, behave, or play that green.

Shaun Powell:  It’s the Lakers, and by a landslide if they enjoy the offseason of their dreams. They’re just set up to rebound better than the other teams, with money to spend, a dollop of young stars on rookie contracts and a guy in the front office (Magic Johnson) who happens to be a winner in all things basketball. We all know who they’re chasing, and if the Lakers do hit bull’s-eye this summer in free agency and/or through trades, they’ll be a title contender.

John Schuhmann:  The Lakers. They already have four good young players on rookie contracts on their roster. Brandon Ingram showed some serious improvement with his offensive game in his second year, Kyle Kuzma is an all-around talent, and while Lonzo Ball can’t shoot, he’s been the rare rookie guard who makes an impact defensively. If the Lakers lose Julius Randle in free agency, it’s probably because they got an upgrade. The Lakers have been the league’s most improved defensive team this season (having allowed five fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season), and have been the league’s most improved offensive teams since the All-Star break (having scored 5.8 more points per 100 possessions than they did before the break). They’ve taken real steps forward already and have something to build on.

Sekou Smith:  The Los Angeles Lakers possess the best combination of young, developing talent and salary cap flexibility heading into what could be a wild free-agent summer. The Lakers still have to sort out some internal issues (Isaiah Thomas and his future being the most glaring) and decide which of their young core pieces are keepers (Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, once thought to be, clearly were not). But we’ve seen enough from Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to know that the Lakers have plenty of talent to work with moving forward. If they make any sort of splash in free agency, go ahead and place the Lakers on your playoff fast track for next season.

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Kyle Kuzma has put up solid performances all season for the Lakers.

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Report: Pau Gasol to join Trail Blazers

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Free agent center Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gasol, 39, who was limited to just 30 games last season because of a variety of injuries, has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds over 17 NBA seasons.



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Report: Furkan Korkmaz returning to 76ers

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Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports tells ESPN.

Korkmaz, 21, brings back a rotational forward with the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. The loss of JJ Redick in free agency – and Kyle Korver’s decision to choose Milwaukee over Philadelphia – brought some increased urgency to keep Korkmaz on the Sixers roster.

 The 21-year-old Korkmaz, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes last season.

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Report: Kevin Love to withdraw from World Cup

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Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is the latest player expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

This news comes just one day after Damian Lillard reportedly withdrew from the World Cup. Love, who played in just 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2018-19.

During the previous two weeks, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum reportedly decided not to compete in the World Cup this year.

Although the guard ranks will be somewhat depleted of NBA stars, Team USA continues to have a deep pool of players available.



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