The Lakers are the leading team among the several that are going after former Nuggets forward Quincy Miller, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). The Nuggets waived Miller just before the deadline for teams to cut their rosters to 15 players this week after trying to find trade partners who’d take him on. It appears clubs were waiting to have a crack at the player drafted 38th overall in 2012 without having to give up anything in a swap, given the high volume of interest that Charania indicates.
Miller, who turns 22 on November 18th, finally recovered last year from a torn left ACL that he suffered as a high school senior, averaging 4.9 points in 15.2 minutes per game across 52 contests after he made only seven appearances as a rookie the season before. He was the fifth-rated high school prospect in the country in 2011, according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index, and front offices are apparently interested to see if his renewed health will allow him to finally realize that potential.
Injuries have taken their toll on the Lakers, who are without Steve Nash and Julius Randle for the rest of the season. They have 15 players on the roster and are limited to paying no more than the minimum salary, but they’re planning to apply for a disabled player exception for Nash that would allow them to spend close to $4.851MM on a free agent. They could also apply for such an exception based on Randle’s injury that would be worth about $1.499MM.
That smaller amount would likely be enough for Miller, and it would still be somewhat surprising to see a team commit more than the minimum salary to him. The more pressing concern for the Lakers might be the roster spot that adding Miller would cost them. Point guard Ronnie Price and shooting guard Wayne Ellington are the team’s only players without fully guaranteed contracts, and their non-guaranteed pacts become partially guaranteed if they’re still on the roster at the end of November 15th. Additional serious injuries could put the Lakers in line to apply for a hardship provision that would allow them to add at 16th player, but that’s not in play for now.
The Lakers have already suffered some significant blows to their roster with both Steve Nash and Julius Randle being lost for the season with injuries. Even if the franchise is approved for Disabled Player Exceptions, they will still have two of their maximum 15 roster spots occupied by injured personnel. If Los Angeles loses another player to injury the team could apply for a temporary hardship increase that would allow the franchise to carry up to 16 players, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter links). This scenario could help the team maintain its depth in the wake of another player loss, but once one of the injured players was able to return to action, the 15 player max would resume, Pincus notes.
Here’s more from Los Angeles:
- The only bright side to the Lakers losing Randle for the season is that the team will be in contention for a top-five lottery pick next summer, J.A. Adande of ESPN.com opines. Los Angeles’ 2015 first-rounder is owed to the Suns but is protected for picks one-through-five, notes Adande.
- The Lakers should take a page out of the Sixers’ playbook and try to hit bottom this season, Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes. This includes trying to convince Kobe Bryant to waive his no trade clause and dealing the future Hall-of Famer, Ford opines. Ford lists the Knicks, Nets, Mavs, and Hornets as teams that would potentially be interested in obtaining Bryant.
- The loss of Randle will hurt the Lakers much more than losing Nash, Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders opines. Los Angeles wasn’t expecting much from Nash, and had Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Price on board to make up for any time that Nash would have missed. With Randle, this season was important for his development, and the team was planning to run a large portion of their offense through him, Koutroupis notes.
- The Lakers and Bryant have faced criticism for the two year, $48.5MM contract extension he signed back in 2013. Hornets owner and former NBA great Michael Jordan defended Bryant for inking the pact, DeAntae Prince of The Sporting News writes. “Can I criticize him for maximizing his opportunity from a financial standpoint? No,” Jordan said. “Does his decision have an effect on how the team will structure certain things? Maybe.”
2:44pm: Randle will miss the entire season after undergoing surgery to repair the leg today, reports Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
11:24pm: The concern Tuesday night was that Randle would miss four to six months, but it will be difficult to know for sure until after he undergoes an evaluation following surgery, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link). The regular season ends in about five and a half months.
8:41am: Lakers lottery pick Julius Randle suffered a broken tibia in his debut Tuesday, the team confirmed via press release. TNT’s Rachel Nichols was the first to report that the No. 7 overall selection from this year’s draft had fractured his leg (Twitter link). There’s no timetable for recovery yet on what the Lakers caution is an initial diagnosis, but the injury will almost certainly knock the rookie out for several months, if not the entire season, putting further strain on a roster that will already be without Steve Nash for all of 2014/15.
The Lakers are already planning to apply for a disabled player exception for Nash, and they could do so for Randle, too, if his injury is deemed a season-ender. The exception would only amount to half of Randle’s approximately $2.997MM rookie scale salary, or about $1.499MM, not nearly as lucrative as the Nash exception that’s worth close to $4.851MM. In any case, the Lakers are stuck with two players who have long-term injuries on their roster, so unless they decide to offload either Nash or Randle, they’ll have no more than 13 healthy players for the foreseeable future, even if they’re granted and use multiple disabled player exceptions. Point guard Ronnie Price and shooting guard Wayne Ellington have non-guaranteed contracts that become partially guaranteed on November 15th, while the team’s other 13 contracts, including those for Nash and Randle, are fully guaranteed.
Randle was highly touted coming out of the University of Kentucky, and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranked the power forward as the No. 2 prospect for the 2014 draft going into his freshman season before he slipped a bit over the course of the year. Concern over how the broken foot he’d suffered as a high school senior had healed likely helped him fall to the Lakers at No. 7. The Lakers’ decision to claim Carlos Boozer off amnesty waivers this summer looks prescient in the light of Randle’s injury, though the team isn’t expected to be in playoff contention this season. The Suns will receive the Lakers’ 2015 first-round pick if it doesn’t fall within the top five selections.
Workers broke ground today on a new arena for the Kings that’s set to open in two years, the team confirms via press release. It’s the latest in a long line of steps toward a new building that the NBA has mandated must take place in a timely fashion in advance of a 2017 deadline for completion. The league would have the power to take control of the team and move it to another city if the Kings either miss the deadline or don’t show sufficient progress, but it seems the franchise is well on its way to opening the doors of its new home in Sacramento. There’s more on the Kings amid our latest look around the Pacific Division:
- The Kings are indeed looking for help on the wing even though they’re not ready to sign Terrence Williams at this point, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Williams, a four-year NBA veteran, reportedly worked out for Sacramento recently, and the Kings, who have an open roster spot, are looking for experience, Jones says.
- New Suns guard Isaiah Thomas confirms that he had interest in signing with the Lakers this summer, adding that the interest was mutual, as he tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe. “First off, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers. Who wouldn’t want to play for them? Second off, I felt like they always needed a point guard — a small guard like myself,” Thomas said. “I always envisioned myself playing with the Lakers, but like you said, they were waiting on Carmelo [Anthony] and other moves. The Suns came out of nowhere and showed a lot of interest, and I fell in love with them.”
- A report early in free agency indicated that the Lakers, Heat and Pistons were Thomas’ preferred teams, and he says to Lowe that all three, as well as the Mavs, showed interest, noting that Miami’s pursuit took place before LeBron James left, as Lowe passes along in the same piece.
- Steve Ballmer can write off about half of the $2 billion he paid to buy the Clippers as he files his federal taxes over the next 15 years, report Arash Massoudi and Alan Livsey of the Financial Times (hat tip to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News).
Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss believes her team let Dwight Howard down during his year there, wants Kobe Bryant to continue playing after his contract expires in 2016, and also tells USA Today’s Sam Amick that the organization is functioning more smoothly with Phil Jackson off to New York:
“I think it is trying to find how we’re going to operate together. I believe that Phil was a source of conflict between me and my brother and Mitch, I guess, as well. And now that Phil, as of six months ago, is now off the market and has a job – isn’t in the wings – that source of conflict is removed. And I think that the way we operate is becoming more clear. I’m satisfied with everybody’s role, and now we just need everybody to step up and do what is required of them. For me, that means stepping up and talking about the organization and being the face of the organization and establishing the clear lines of authority and transparency and, ultimately, accountability, which lies on my shoulders.”
Buss adds that fellow co-owner and brother Jim Buss, along with GM Mitch Kupchak, have assured her that the team will make progress in win column each season in the coming years. More from the West..
- Although the Blazers declined to pick up his team option of $4.7MM for the 2015/16 season, Thomas Robinson expressed his desire to remain in Portland, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. “I don’t think that worry should be even close. I want to stay thinking positive and that’s what I’m going to continue to do. Hopefully toward the end of the summer, the Blazers have a different mindset and they want to bring me back, because I want to be a part of this team. Something special is happening here. I want to be a part of it,” Robinson said.
- Howard says he didn’t bolt from the Lakers because of Kobe, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I didn’t leave L.A. because I was afraid of Kobe Bryant,” Howard said. “I went to a good situation for myself. I can’t change people’s opinions, but I did what I had to do for myself.”
- The Lakers expect big things out of offseason acquisition Carlos Boozer, an assistant coach tells Ryan Primeaux of Lakers.com. “He’s a double-double virtually every night when he’s on his game. He provides leadership. He provides a constant, consistent low-post game, and the ability to step away from the basket and keep defenses honest. So he will definitely provide stability for us in the bigs department,” the unnamed coach told Primeaux.
Chuck Myron and Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
Warriors owner Peter Guber expressed regret Monday after sending an email that appeared to play on ethnic stereotypes, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports details. At least one team employee took offense, according to Spears. Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson is selling his stake in the Atlanta franchise after the discovery of an email he sent that contained racial overtones, and Hawks GM Danny Ferry is on indefinite leave of absence from the team after his racially charged comments. It remains to be seen if any such fallout with happen with Guber in the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal that touched off heightened awareness around the league. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Extension-eligible Klay Thompson reiterated his desire to stay with the Warriors in comments to Michael Lee of The Washington Post, who notes Stephen Curry‘s verbal influence on the team’s decision to keep Thompson out of Kevin Love trade proposals. “It’s arguments either way if you make a move or what not, how your team is going to look and if it’s a good move or not,” Curry said to Lee. “Obviously, you know that other guy was pretty good, but when you have a core that’s continuing to get better, you got a lot of good chemistry, we fit together, it makes sense. And you want to fight for that. [Thompson is] nowhere near his ceiling.”
- The Lakers aren’t planning to apply to have Steve Nash‘s salary wiped from their cap based on a medical retirement, GM Mitch Kupchak told reporters Monday, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times notes (Twitter link). Nash hasn’t announced his retirement even though the 40-year-old is out for the season with nerve damage in his back. The team is instead applying for a Disabled Player Exception.
- Sasha Vujacic has signed with Spain’s Laboral Kuxta, the Euroleague announced. Sportando’s Enea Trapani first reported the move involving the eight-year NBA veteran who spent time last season with the Clippers on a 10-day contract. He’ll replace former Kings swingman Orlando Johnson, whom the team is letting go, according to Trapani.
A report from Marc Stein of ESPN.com 10 days ago indicated that the Knicks and Iman Shumpert were in active extension negotiations, but Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com continues to hear that the sides haven’t engaged in any talks, echoing his dispatch from a month ago. The Knicks upset Shumpert when they made him a frequent subject of trade talk last season, Begley writes, and a source close to the swingman tells Begley that Shumpert is in no mood to give New York a hometown discount should he hit restricted free agency next summer. Here’s more from around the Big Apple:
- Nets GM Billy King confirmed the team will keep Jorge Gutierrez and Jerome Jordan along with the team’s 12 fully guaranteed contracts for opening night, tweets Andy Vasquez of The Record. Presumably, that means Cory Jefferson will stick around on his partially guaranteed deal, too.
- Carmelo Anthony did his part to refute a report that indicated that marquee free agents don’t want to play with Kobe Bryant, telling reporters that he’d “love” to play with the Lakers legend, as Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com note. Anthony also said that Bryant tried to recruit him to the Lakers this summer, but the Knicks forward can’t hit free agency again until 2018, and Bryant’s under contract through the summer of 2016.
- Lionel Hollins said he never got to know Grizzlies owner Robert Pera before the team let Hollins go in 2013, as he tells Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The new Nets coach added that timing played a key role in his decision to take the Brooklyn job this summer while the Lakers still had a vacancy. “I felt either one of those jobs would be fine,” Hollins says. “The Lakers still had Kobe and they could change the team at a moment’s notice because they only had three players under contract. So I thought that wasn’t a bad situation and I thought this was a good situation so when it came about, it was one that I was happy and I wasn’t going to wait on the Lakers when I had a job in hand.”
Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol still won’t open up about his impending free agency, as Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes in a subscription-only piece. “That’s so far down the line that it’s not on my mind. I just want to do my job every day,” Gasol said. “You never know what might happen in seven or eight months. The franchise might go in a different direction. We’re going to see how we all feel in July. All of the talk now won’t change that fact.” Tillery also mentions the Knicks as a possible suitor for Gasol if he hits free agency, pointing to Phil Jackson’s belief that Gasol would be a perfect fit in the triangle offense.
Here’s more from around the league:
- The contract Jeremy Tyler signed with Shanxi of the Chinese Basketball Association is fully guaranteed, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Tyler, who was released from the Lakers per his request to sign with Shanxi, will have a chance to catch on with an NBA team in March when the CBA playoffs come to a close.
- Guard Jordan Crawford has yet to take off in the NBA and he’s now looking to make his mark in China, writes David Pick for Basketball Insiders. “During the offseason I didn’t think I’d sign in China. I thought I would get a good deal in the NBA, but I was overlooked,” Crawford said. “I knew some players who came over here from the NBA. I work out with Bobby Brown and Pooh Jeter all the time, so I learned a lot from them. One thing I heard were stories of Stephon Marbury and his success in China.”
- After the Thunder parted ways with James Harden over their refusal to give him the max salary, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders wonders what they’re thinking when it comes to Reggie Jackson. Oklahoma CIty has until October 31st to work out an extension with the talented young guard, and Hamilton opines that a team playing for a title can’t afford to allow its young talent to walk out the door.
- Free agent Eric Griffin, recently waived by the Mavs, has agreed to a deal with the Texas Legends of The NBA D-League, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link).
Zach Links and Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
There are a number of young up-and-coming small forwards in the league. John Zitzler of Basketball Insiders profiles the ones he thinks will have breakout seasons in 2014/15. Here’s more from around the league:
- Victor Oladipo underwent surgery to repair a facial fracture and is expected to be out for a month, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Magic guard said that the surgery went well and vowed to come back strong in a pair of tweets.
- $100K of Jerome Jordan‘s minimum salary was locked in today, as he remained on the roster beyond the partial guarantee date, as noted on the updated Nets salary sheet maintained by Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.
- The Nets used their trade exception of $788,872 to receive Casper Ware‘s $816,482 contract in the trade that sent Marquis Teague to the Sixers, tweets Pincus. The incoming salary is allowed to exceed the exception within $100K. The Nets created a new exception equivalent to Teague’s salary, as we noted last night.
- If Kobe Bryant has indeed scared away potential free agents, then Lakers management is to blame for the state of the franchise, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com writes. One league executive tells Berger, “They’re [the Lakers] the ones that gave him a $48MM extension knowing that nobody wanted to play with him. And they were also the ones that gave away multiple first-round picks for an over-the-hill Steve Nash. Not to mention firing every coach that Magic [Johnson] decided he didn’t like.”
- The Warriors‘ Klay Thompson has two outspoken allies in his quest for a contract extension, writes Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group. Thompson’s father Mychal, a former NBA player, has insisted that his son is worth a maximum-salary extension. The senior Thompson’s opinion was echoed earlier this week by former Warriors coach and current ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson. “It’s good to hear from guys like that because they both played in the NBA, and both were successful in the NBA and [have] been around the game for so many decades,” Klay Thompson said. “So if they think I’m that quality type of player, it makes me think highly of myself as well.”
Arthur Hill contributed to this post.
The Lakers have officially waived Jabari Brown and Roscoe Smith, the team has announced. These moves cut down Los Angeles’ preseason roster count to 15 players, which is the regular season maximum. Neither player’s contract came with any guaranteed money, so the team won’t owe them any salary.
These players being waived comes as no surprise, and with the loss of Steve Nash for the season the Lakers are most likely going to be in the market for point guard help, if they in fact decide to make another addition to their roster.
Smith went undrafted out out of UNLV, and is a bit undersized for his natural position of power forward. He spent his first two years of college at UConn before transferring. His career collegiate numbers were 7.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 0.4 APG. His career slash line was .452/.279/.698.
Brown, who led the SEC in scoring during the 2013/14 campaign , went undrafted in June after departing Missouri after his junior year. He averaged 19.9 PPG and shot 41% from beyond the three point line during his final year with the Tigers. Both players could be candidates to head to the D-League, though that is just my speculation.