Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers To Guarantee Jordan Clarkson’s Contract

No surprise here, but the Lakers will keep Jordan Clarkson and allow his contract to become guaranteed for a year, a team spokesman confirmed to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.  Contractually, the Lakers had the option of waiving Clarkson on or by August 1st (Saturday) without penalty before his deal was locked in.  Because Clarkson played with the Lakers’ summer league team, the guarantee date of his contract moved up from around Halloween to the first day of August, Pincus explains.

Clarkson became the team’s primary point guard for most of the second half last season.  In that time, the guard averaged 15.8 PPG, five APG, and 4.2 RPG, earning a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first team. Pincus notes that this season, Clarkson may slide over to the two next to rookie D’Angelo Russell, with veteran Kobe Bryant moving to the three, though Byron Scott recently said his rotation will be determined in training camp.

Back in May, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak opined that Clarkson compares similarly in terms of athleticism and style of play to Russell Westbrook.

“If there’s a player in the league that plays like him, it’s Russell Westbrook,” Kupchak said. “Now, I’m not saying for a second that Jordan Clarkson is the next Russell Westbrook, but he’s that kind of a ball-handling guard.”

Northwest Notes: Durant, Thunder, Blazers

The Blazers acquired Mike Miller from the Cavs earlier this week but he’s probably not sticking around for long.  The veteran is a “strong candidate” to negotiate a buyout with Portland, Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears, and the Grizzlies, Thunder, and Mavs already appear to be interested.  While we wait for more on that, here’s more from the Northwest Division..

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Hibbert, Crawford, Cousins, Evans

Lakers trade acquisition Roy Hibbert is excited to play for coach Byron Scott, and while he cautioned that he has nothing against Pacers coach Frank Vogel, the center made it clear as he spoke with TNT’s David Aldridge that his preference this summer was to end up on a team with a former player as coach. Hibbert also expressed his unwavering sentiment for Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird, even though Bird strongly signaled to the media this spring that he was ready to move on from the former All-Star.
Larry was very up front with me,” Hibbert said. “He said before the press conference that I can’t promise you minutes next year, and they wanted to go in a different direction. So it wasn’t like what happened came out of nowhere, what he said. I’ll always say that Larry changed my life. I was on the phone with my agent in the office during the [2009] draft process and Larry said ‘If Roy’s there at 17, we’ll take him.’ That meant a lot to me. I know that things change and the NBA is ‘What have you done for me lately?,’ but I could never say a bad thing about Larry or the Pacers organization.”
We had more on Hibbert’s old team earlier today, and now here’s the latest on his new team’s division rivals:

Knicks, Others Eye Kevin Seraphin

The Knicks, Lakers and Wizards continue to show interest in Kevin Seraphin, league sources tell Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link). Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports reported interest from the Lakers early this month, and Scotto added the Wizards a few days later, but this appears to be the first time New York has come up in connection with the center.

The Knicks are also among the teams with interest in Carlos Boozer, but it’s not clear if New York sees the pair of big men as an either-or proposition. The Knicks and Lakers have their $2.814MM room exception available, but the Wizards have his Bird rights, so they can outbid other teams.

The Wizards were expected earlier this month to attempt to find a team willing to sign-and-trade for Seraphin, a maneuver that would ostensibly allow Washington to create a trade exception. In any case, Seraphin seemed a long shot to return to the Wizards at season’s end, as he’s reportedly been looking for a chance to compete for the starting job, though, according to Scotto, Washington at least touched base with him this month. The Wizards have Marcin Gortat entering year two of a five-year deal to man the pivot. Starting would also be a difficult proposition for Seraphin in New York, where free agent signee Robin Lopez seems firmly entrenched, and the same is probably true of the Lakers, who traded for Roy Hibbert.

The Suns and Mavericks also reportedly showed interest earlier this month, though it’s unclear if they’re still in the mix. The Spurs apparently had tentative interest in case David West signed elsewhere, but West took the minimum to play for San Antonio.

Which team needs Seraphin the most: The Knicks, Lakers or Wizards? Leave a comment to let us know.

Latest On Carlos Boozer

The Knicks, Rockets and Mavericks continue to have interest in signing Carlos Boozer, league sources tell Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link). Scotto first identified the Knicks as among the teams eyeing the Rob Pelinka client earlier this month, though Marc Berman of the New York Post reported soon thereafter that the Knicks had engaged in internal conversations about him but hadn’t made a formal pursuit. Chris Broussard of ESPN.com pegged the Mavs and Rockets as among the teams in on Boozer just before free agency began, while Broussard later heard that the Mavs were one of four teams in talks with the former All-Star.

The Knicks and Mavericks have access to the $2.814MM room exception. The Rockets are in a tough spot, since they only have roughly $2.3MM left on their mid-level exception to spend but would trigger a hard cap if they gave any of it to Boozer. Houston also has No. 32 pick Montrezl Harrell who remains unsigned.

Several other teams, including the Clippers, Spurs, Raptors, Pelicans, Nuggets, Nets, Lakers and Heat, have reportedly been interested in Boozer over the last month, but it’s unclear if any of them remain in the mix. Boozer and the Clippers reportedly had mutual interest.

Kobe Bryant Notes: Minutes, Free Agents, Jackson

The Lakers can only use Kobe Bryant at power forward against Western Conference teams on a limited basis, Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk opines. Lakers coach Byron Scott plans to gives Bryant some minutes at power forward next season, as he told NBA.com’s David Aldridge. “There’s some games, against some teams, where he’ll probably play four,” Scott said. “With his tenaciousness, the way he guards people and when his mind is set, if I say ‘Kobe, you’ve got him,’ he takes that as a challenge.” Helin doubts Bryant will see much action there against some of the better Western Conference teams, pointing out that he cannot match up defensively with the likes of Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka, LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki and Draymond Green. Scott will likely split up most of the minutes at power forward between Julius Randle and Brandon Bass, Helin concludes.

In other news regarding Bryant:

  • Bryant’s failure to reach out to the team’s newcomers is a non-issue for Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams and Bass were silent during their introductory press conference when asked if Bryant had contacted them. In a SiriusXM NBA Radio interview, Kupchak laughed off the controversy: “Kobe doesn’t call every single player we sign or trade for. I don’t even know if he’s in the country, to be honest with you. There was much made of it. But I thought it was kind of comical.” However, Bryant did attend FC Barcelona’s soccer practice last week in Los Angeles, Medina notes.
  • Knicks president and former Lakers coach Phil Jackson confirmed during a Q&A session with author Charley Rosen posted Monday on ESPN.com that Bryant has a lot of animosity toward him. “Yes, quite often I could feel his hatred,” Jackson told Rosen. “I’m sure Kobe was [upset] when I wrote in “The Last Season” that he was uncoachable. And, yes, we were often at loggerheads. He wanted more freedom and I wanted him to be more disciplined. This is a normal source of friction thing between coaches and players on just about every level of competition.”

And-Ones: Miller, Haywood, Hammon

Mike Miller landing with the Thunder seems like an unlikely outcome, Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman writes. Miller was reportedly traded from the Cavs to the Blazers and is expected to be released. Joining the Thunder would be an interesting move because Miller played under new Thunder coach Billy Donovan at Florida between 1998-2000, as Slater points out, and the two are very close friends, Slater adds. However, Miller, 35, who is coming off his worst season, reportedly wanted out from Cleveland because he wants more playing time and that would be hard to find with the Thunder, Slater adds. The team also won’t have a spot on the roster for him, Slater notes.

  • The Sixers discussed trading for Brendan Haywood with the Cavs before the big man was reportedly dealt to the Blazers, reports SI.com’s Jake Fischer, who cites a source (on Twitter).
  • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon has gained traction as a potentially serious head-coaching candidate, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com writes after several conversations with league executives. More importantly, from Berger’s perspective, the culture around the league toward a female head coach has changed drastically. One executive from the Eastern Conference told Berger that Hammon “would be high on my list.” Another said, “Why not? She has the qualities necessary, and with an organization’s backing, she could do it. She’s obviously learned under the best.”
  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak wanted to meet with Nick Young to tell Young not to consider the signing of Lou Williams a slap in the face, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reports (on Twitter). The Kupchak and Young met recently and afterward Young, who has been the subject of trade rumors this summer, said he felt confident he would remain with the team.

Pacific Notes: James, Rivers, Lakers, Kings

Summer league point guard Mike James impressed the Suns, but the team doesn’t seem to have a need for another point guard, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Multiple teams are in pursuit, according to Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link), but he’s under contract with Laboral Kuxta Vitoria in Spain, Coro points out, suggesting that it would likely require a guaranteed deal with an NBA team to make it worthwhile for him to exercise his buyout clause. James, who’s not to be confused with the 12-year veteran by the same name, is inclined to play one more season in Spain, Charania adds.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Austin Rivers‘ brief tenure with Relativity Sports has met an end, tweets Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal. Rivers joined the agency after splitting with David Falk this past season. Relativity represented him as he came to a two-year deal for nearly $6.455MM to stay with father Doc Rivers and the Clippers.
  • The deals that Caron Butler, Quincy Acy, and Seth Curry agreed to with the Kings are all two-year, minimum salary arrangements that are fully guaranteed the first year and include player options for the second season, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • The performance of the Lakers‘ Summer League squad was underwhelming, leaving some around the league skeptical of the long-term future of a number of the team’s younger prospects, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. “You don’t want to draw any conclusions from a few summer games obviously,” one league executive told Deveney. “But I think in general, the way to put it is that they probably value their assets more than the rest of the league values them. Everyone gambles on young guys. You just don’t know. For [the Lakers], they could all turn out to be fine, but they’re a long way from that now.
  • The new Kings arena cleared another legal hurdle Friday, as a judge issued a ruling in favor of the city of Sacramento and against plaintiffs who asserted that the team and the city struck a side deal, writes Tony Bizjak of The Sacramento Bee. The arena is already under construction.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Chandler, Young, Barnes

Most teams chasing top-tier centers thought it better to go after the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe before circling back to Tyson Chandler as something of a fallback option, but the Suns found it wise to chase Chandler before pursuing Aldridge, as Rob Mahoney of SI.com examines. Chandler quickly committed to Phoenix, and he helped them become a finalist in the Aldridge sweepstakes.

“I think when you have a guy like that that you target, you go aggressively after him. And that’s what we decided to do with Tyson,” McDonough said to Mahoney. “It did help us that there were so many free agent big men on the market, especially high-level players — guys who have been All-Stars, All-NBA, and all that stuff. I think a few teams wanted to kind of talk to each of the guys and get a feel for them. Some of the players wanted to do visits with multiple teams, and be wined and dined a bit. Tyson really didn’t want any of that.”

There’s more from Phoenix amid our latest look around the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns seemingly made their three-player trade with the Pistons in an effort to clear cap room for Aldridge, but McDonough told Mahoney that the deal that sent out Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger is one the team would have done regardless, citing a desire for more roster balance and future flexibility.
  • Nick Young feels more confident that he’ll begin the coming season with the Lakers after a recent meeting with GM Mitch Kupchak, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. That jibes with a dispatch last week from Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, who heard that the Lakers had stopped looking for trade partners who’d take Young.
  • Harrison Barnes confirmed Thursday that he wants a long-term future with the Warriors, as Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group details. He and the team reportedly share a mutual interest in a rookie scale extension. “I mean, we just won a championship,” Barnes said. “Of course I’d love to keep this group together for many years to come, you know what I’m saying? So that’s obvious.”

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Smith, Hibbert

New Lakers Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams and Brandon Bass had an incredulous silence when asked in a press conference today whether they’d heard from new teammate Kobe Bryant, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com shows via Instagram. Indeed, none of the three have heard from or touched base with the Lakers star, notes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link).

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Forward Josh Smith said that he considered joining the Clippers last season after he was waived by the Pistons, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes. “It was an option,” Smith said. “It was a definite thought process and conversation I had with my family.” Smith instead signed with the Rockets, but now comes to Los Angeles on a one-year, minimum salary arrangement.
  • When asked why he chose to sign with the Clippers, Smith indicated that it came down to having a defined role, something he didn’t feel that he had in Houston, Melissa Rohlin of The Los Angeles Times relays. “We did some special things in Houston but it was more of a visual, concrete type of situation-scenario for me here,” Smith said. “When you have vision and it’s not kind of foggy on what’s your role and your purpose on the team, you got to make a decision you feel is best. My whole thing was I was looking at scenarios more so than being wowed by red-carpet layouts.”
  • New Lakers center Hibbert waived part of his 15% trade kicker to join the team, a move he considered a “no brainer” because the franchise made it known that they wanted him, something the Pacers did not do, Medina tweets. The big man gave back all but $78,185 of what otherwise would have been a $2.3MM payout for being dealt. Hibbert had moved to Los Angeles at the end of last season, knowing he would likely be dealt away from Indiana, though he didn’t know it would be to the Lakers, Oram adds (Twitter link).

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