Los Angeles Lakers Rumors

Western Notes: Thunder, Morrow, Martin, Lakers

October 24 at 9:33pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

There are indications that the Thunder are more willing to pay the luxury tax than in the past, USA Today’s Sam Amick writes. That’s in part because expected increases to the salary cap and luxury tax line will make it more difficult to become a repeat taxpayer subject to stiffer penalties, and those repeat-offender rules might not exist in the next collective bargaining agreement, Amick points out.

Here’s the latest out of the west:

  • Thunder guard Anthony Morrow has a sprained left MCL and is expected to miss a minimum of four-to-six weeks, Royce Young of ESPN.com reports. With Kevin Durant out for at least six-to-eight weeks with a broken foot, Morrow was in the running to join the team’s starting five.
  • The Rockets met with Kenyon Martin earlier today about a possible role on their coaching staff, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). Martin appeared in 32 games for the Knicks last season, averaging 4.3 PPG and 4.2 RPG, and was hobbled with ankle issues for the majority of the season. Neither Martin or his representatives have announced that he was retiring yet, so it’s possible that Martin is simply exploring his options rather than looking for his next career.
  • Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter link) offers a different reason for Martin’s visit with the Rockets. Berman is reporting that Houston was checking on the player’s health for a possible roster spot. It’s quite possible that the team wasn’t encouraged by what they saw, and this led them to claim Earl Clark off of waivers from the Grizzlies instead, though that is just my speculation.
  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was noncommittal about the team signing another player now that Steve Nash will miss the season, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes (Twitter links). The GM also relayed that he met with Nash and his agent, Bill Duffy, in Las Vegas last night to finalize Nash’s decision.
  • The Lakers aren’t looking to add another point guard at this time, Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times tweets. The team is happy with Jeremy Lin, Jordan Clarkson, and Ronnie Price, notes Bresnahan. Although, with Price suffering an undisclosed injury in tonight’s preseason game, that could change rather quickly depending on the severity.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Latest On Steve Nash, Lakers

October 24 at 8:27pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The basketball world may have seen the last of Steve Nash on the hardwood, as he is set to miss the entire 2014/15 campaign with recurring nerve damage in his back. Nash was most likely going to retire after this season anyway, and now it seems that the Lakers April 8, 2014 loss to the Rockets, when he notched three points and five assists, was the last stat line of a surefire Hall-of-Fame career. Here’s the latest chatter around the league regarding Nash and the Lakers…

  • Nash’s contract may still hold value for the Lakers as a trade chip, J.A. Adande of ESPN.com writes. Los Angeles could look to deal Nash’s expiring $9.7MM contract, but if they do so they will most likely have to take back a player with more than one season remaining on his deal, something the team might be reluctant to do as they look ahead to clearing as much cap room as possible heading into the summer of 2016, Adande notes.
  • Despite missing most of last season with injury woes, Nash still enjoyed the time he was able to make it onto the court, Bruce Arthur of The Star writes.
  • It was reported earlier that Los Angeles intends to apply for a disabled player exception for Nash, but that isn’t their only financial option regarding the player and his contract. Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times (subscription required) runs down five different possibilities, including trading him; Nash retiring; simply keeping him on the roster for the season; or a possible buyout of his contract.
  • The Lakers are deferring to Nash as to whether or not he will stay around the team to rehab, recover at home, or simply retire, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News reports.
  • Former Raptors and Suns GM Bryan Colangelo reflected on his decision to draft Nash back in 1996, writes Sean Fitz-Gerald of The National Post. Colangelo said, “At the 15th position in the first round, a lot of people said, ‘who’s this kid from Santa Clara who doesn’t really look or feel like an NBA player?’ Nobody knew that he was going to go on to have a storied career like he has, and be considered one of the greats who’s played the position of point guard. But lo and behold, this guy is so dedicated to his craft and dedicated to the physical fitness side of it and being prepared and being ready, he just has done some incredible things. I just feel fortunate to play a small part in what is such a storied career.”

Lakers To Apply For Disabled Player Exception

October 24 at 4:50pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Lakers intend to apply to the league office for a  disabled player exception for injured guard Steve Nash, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register reports (Twitter link). If granted, the exception would be worth nearly $4.851MM, or half of his $9.701MM salary for this season.

It was announced yesterday that Nash would miss the entire 2014/15 season due to recurring nerve damage in his back. The Lakers could waive Nash and apply for a salary exclusion if it is determined that he suffered a career-ending injury. The catch is that they would have to wait to apply for that until the one-year anniversary of his last game played, which was on April 8th of last season. The issue with going this route is that it would only give the league a little less than a week before the regular season ended to grant the exclusion. If it was granted it would erase Nash’s salary from the team’s cap, but Los Angeles would still be on the hook for his salary.

It’s unclear if the Lakers intend to use the exception, if granted, to sign a player immediately, or rather to keep it in reserve for a move later on in the season. There aren’t many free agents of consequence who come available midseason. The DPE could also be utilized for salary-matching purposes in a trade, and that route would likely net the team a better player, though the Lakers don’t have much in the way of tradeable assets they would be willing to part with. Plus, they’d only be able to acquire a player who’s on an expiring contract and whose salary is no more than $100K greater than the value of the exception.

Steve Nash To Miss Entire Season

October 23 at 7:21pm CDT By Chuck Myron

7:21pm: The Lakers have confirmed that Nash will miss the season, the team announced. He still hasn’t decided whether he’ll retire in the wake of the news, USA Today’s Sam Amick tweets.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers6:58pm: Nerve issues will keep Steve Nash from playing this season, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Sources tell Ding that the Lakers are expected to rule the 40-year-old point guard out for all of 2014/15 because of recurring nerve damage in his back. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times confirms that Nash will not play this year (Twitter link). The Lakers can apply for a Disabled Player Exception worth nearly $4.851MM, or half of his $9.701MM salary for this season, but they can’t take Nash’s contract, which expires at season’s end, off the books.

If the Lakers waive Nash, they could apply for a salary exclusion if he’s deemed to have suffered a career-ending injury. However, they’d have to wait to apply for that on the one-year anniversary of his last game, which took place on April 8th last season. That would give the NBA only about a week before the end of the regular season to grant the exclusion, which would wipe Nash’s salary from the team’s cap figure, though the Lakers would still have to pay the former MVP his salary. Still, that’s unlikely to change the equation much for the Lakers, as few, if any, free agents of impact are available at that point in the season, and it wouldn’t affect the team’s cap room for next summer, since Nash’s contract expires at season’s end one way or another.

The league has an insurance policy that covers teams for a portion of the salary for around 150 players in case they are injured, but the insurance company may choose as many as 14 players to exempt from that policy each year. It’s not clear whether Nash is one of those exempt players, but if the insurance covered Nash when he first signed his deal in 2012, at which point he was still fully healthy, he’d still be covered now. The insurance nonetheless has no bearing on Nash’s cap figure.

In any case, the prospect of Nash returning to the court for 2015/16 or beyond seems remote, so there’s a strong chance his career is at an end. The 15th overall pick in the 1996 draft didn’t show his true potential until a trade sent him to the Mavs after his second NBA season. He blossomed into an All-Star alongside Dirk Nowitzki, and when Nash left as a free agent in 2004 for Phoenix, where he teamed with coach Mike D’Antoni, he reached new levels, winning back-to-back MVP awards his first two seasons with the Suns. He remained productive for many years, averaging 10.7 assists during the 2011/12 season, when he turned 38, prompting the Lakers to sign-and-trade for him in the summer of 2012. He joined Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to form a star-studded Lakers team that was a chic pick to win the championship, which would have been a first for Nash, but the team fell well short of expectations and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

A broken leg that Nash suffered in just his second regular season game with the Lakers helped limit him to 50 games in 2012/13 and touched off the nerve trouble that was largely responsible for him appearing in just 15 games last season. He never lived up to his contract, worth more than $27.9MM over three years, and he admitted this spring that he wasn’t going to retire because he wanted to collect his salary for this season. Still, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has said he doesn’t regret doing the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Barnes, McLemore

October 23 at 11:30am CDT By Chuck Myron

Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson believes Klay Thompson  has “got to get” maximum salaries in his next deal, even as the team is reportedly pushing for him to take less as the October 31st extension deadline nears. Of course, after a controversial end to his tenure in Golden State, it’s quite possible that Jackson’s advancement of the idea of max money for Thompson is a dig at the Warriors, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News suggests (Twitter link). In any case, we’ll soon see if the team is willing to come to terms with Thompson or set him up for restricted free agency next summer, and as we wait, here’s more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss takes exception to an ESPN.com report that indicated that Kobe Bryant is driving free agents away from the Lakers, as she made clear today in an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “”Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team,” Buss said. The report indicated that Paul George signed his extension with the Pacers last year in part because he had reservations about Bryant and didn’t want to hit free agency and sign with the Lakers, though George has publicly questioned the report’s veracity (Twitter link).
  • Matt Barnes felt as though he was being replaced when the Clippers pursued other small forwards in free agency this summer, as he tells Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Barnes nonetheless says he would like to come off the bench even though coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday that he’ll start on opening night.
  • Ben McLemore is leaving agent Rodney Blackstock, as he confirmed to reporters, including James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom, who originally reported the move. The shooting guard hasn’t decided when he’ll hire a replacement, Ham adds. The Kings picked up their team option on McLemore this past weekend.

And-Ones: Hawks, Motum, Crawford

October 22 at 10:28pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Outgoing Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson has the power to force as much as 60% of the team to be sold, even though he and his partners have only 50.1% of the team, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The NBA appears to be pressuring all of the other owners to sell so that the entire franchise can change hands, Vivlamore adds. All of the team’s owners still have yet to meet to discuss how much of the franchise they’re going to sell, and so far, their only action as a group has involved preparation for vetting prospective buyers, though vetting itself has yet to begin, as Vivlamore explains.

Here’s more from around the league:

      • When Jordan Crawford signed with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association for $1.4MM it wasn’t because he didn’t receive any NBA offers. The Kings had tried to sign Crawford this summer, but he wasn’t comfortable with a backup role in Sacramento, David Pick of Eurobasket reports (Twitter links). Crawford also relayed that he felt “overlooked” by the league, and that’s what led him to China, Pick notes.
      • Brock Motum‘s one year, minimum salary deal with the Jazz is non-guaranteed, as is reflected on the Basketball Insiders salary page for Utah.
      • Many of the teams that joined the Sixers in a voting bloc that scuttled immediate lottery reform are nonetheless miffed about Philadelphia’s stripped-down roster, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes. Teams voted down lottery changes in part because they feel too much is in flux, and that includes the unknown of just how or whether the league will phase in the substantial increase in the salary cap that the league’s enhanced TV revenues will bring about, Lowe adds. Some influential agents oppose the idea of any phase-in, preferring that the cap simply leap in the summer of 2016 based on the idea that teams might be uncertain of how to handle the changed landscape and hand out contracts they’ll later regret, according to Lowe.
      • The surging salary cap projections have some small-market teams worried about how they’ll manage in a league where $100MM payrolls are the norm, in spite of the TV money that would make that sort of spending more palatable, as Lowe writes in the same piece. Small-market teams also fear that they’ll become slightly profitable and lose the benefit of tens of millions in income through the league’s revenue sharing program, the Grantland columnist explains. The Lakers handed out $50MM, the Knicks $27MM and the Bulls $17MM in revenue sharing last season, Lowe reports.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Hill, Price, Thomas

October 22 at 11:04am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Clippers tied for third among the teams most likely to win the NBA title as the league’s GMs see it, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com details amid the results of the league’s annual GM survey. Still, they figure to receive a strong challenge in their own division from the Warriors. While we wait to see how it plays out, here’s the latest from the Pacific:

  • Jordan Hill confirmed rumors from this past spring that he wouldn’t have re-signed with the Lakers if Mike D’Antoni were still the coach, as he tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Medina adds the Heat, Spurs and Magic to the list of suitors who went after the power forward this summer.
  • Byron Scott stopped short of acknowledging that Ronnie Price is a lock to make the opening-night roster for the Lakers, but the coach said that injuries to the team’s other point guards would make it tough to let him go, Medina notes in a separate piece“If you look at it that way, we have to [keep him],” Scott said. “Ronnie gets more of an opportunity. So far in my opinion, he has taken full advantage of it.”
  • The Suns told Isaiah Thomas when they pitched him in free agency this summer that they valued him as a starter even though they made it clear they wanted to retain Eric Bledsoe, as Thomas tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Thomas isn’t concerned with whether he starts, but he did express continued bitterness toward the Kings, telling Kennedy he wasn’t surprised that they didn’t re-sign him and that he always felt the Sacramento organization underappreciated him.

Lakers Waive Keith Appling

October 20 at 4:54pm CDT By Chuck Myron

4:54pm: Appling suffered a shoulder subluxation while in camp with the Lakers and remains injured, so he’ll receive $6K from the Lakers under the stipulations of his Exhibit 9 contract, Pincus reports (Twitter links). He’d have drawn paychecks based on his entire minimum salary as long as he was hurt if the Lakers had signed him to a conventional contract.

4:48pm: The move is official, the team announced.

4:35pm: The Lakers are cutting Keith Appling, reports Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Pincus indicates that the team has already placed the point guard on waivers, though the team has yet to make an announcement. The 22-year-old’s contract is non-guaranteed, so it won’t cost the Lakers any dead money to part ways with him.

Appling went undrafted out of Michigan State this year and spent summer league with the Blazers before joining the purple-and-gold. He’s appeared in two preseason games for the Lakers but has totaled only two points and two assists in nearly 20 minutes. The 2010 McDonald’s All-American didn’t put up flashy numbers with the Spartans, either, but he was a mainstay of coach Tom Izzo‘s teams for four years.

The move would take the Lakers down to 17 players, 13 of whom have full guarantees. Ronnie Price appears a strong bet to make it to opening night on his non-guaranteed deal, leaving Jabari Brown, Wayne Ellington and Roscoe Smith to fight it out for the last spot, if the Lakers elect to carry the maximum 15 players to start the regular season.

Lakers Waive Jeremy Tyler

October 20 at 4:47pm CDT By Zach Links

MONDAY, 4:47pm: The move is official, the team announced.

SUNDAY, 6:26pm: The Lakers will waive Jeremy Tyler so that he can sign a deal in China, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).  Wojnarowski adds that the forward will not dress for tonight’s preseason game.

Tyler, 23, has spent time with the Warriors, Hawks and Knicks since being drafted by Charlotte in the second round of the 2011 Draft.  Over 104 games, Tyler owns career averages of 3.6 points and 2.6 boards over 104 games in his NBA career.

With Tyler out of the picture, the Lakers now have an 18-man roster with 13 guaranteed deals.  Keith Appling, Jabari Brown, Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price, and Roscoe Smith have non-guaranteed pacts and are vying for the last spots on the final roster.

And-Ones: Kobe, Lottery, Bosh, Hawks

October 20 at 4:03pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Henry Abbott of ESPN The Magazine hears from agents and team sources who say Kobe Bryant‘s rough-edged personality is driving free agents away from the Lakers. The Buss family receives more income from the team’s local TV deal if ratings are better, and that helped persuade the team to sign Bryant to his lucrative two-year extension 12 months ago and to eschew an aggressive rebuilding project, Abbott hears. Bryant’s popularity with powerful front-row celebrities also played a role, and co-owner Jim Buss is just “waiting for [Bryant] to leave,” a source tells Abbott, fearful of engaging in a public spat with the superstar. Steve Nash nearly decided against approving his sign-and-trade to the Lakers and Paul George signed his extension with the Pacers in part because of Bryant, sources tell Abbott. Chris Bosh was one of the Lakers’ missed free agent targets this summer, and there’s more on him amid the latest from around the league:

  • The Thunder will join the Sixers in voting against the changes to the lottery, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, but Wojnarowski seconds Lowe’s report (below) that the measure still has enough support to pass.

Earlier updates:

  • Bosh spoke of a desire to be paid at his full market rate as he explained his decision to turn down a four-year max deal from the Rockets for five years at the max from the Heat to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “It’s always business,” Bosh said. “Nothing is ever personal. I think 100% of those dudes would have taken the deal I took.”
  • Another NBA team has joined the Sixers in opposition to the league’s lottery reform proposal as the Board of Governors meet today, but the measure is still expected to receive approval, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports (Twitter links).
  • Players union secretary-treasurer James Jones is an opponent of shortening games and believes, as teammate LeBron James does, that players would instead like to see fewer games on the schedule, as Jones tells Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
  • Former Hawks All-Star Dikembe Mutombo has met with a group of investors about joining their effort to buy the team, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.