Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Want Clarkson To Step Up His Defense

  • The Lakers want to push Jordan Clarkson, who inked a four-year, $50MM deal this summer, to become a better defender, Mark Medina of The Orange County Register writes. The guard has embraced the challenge that new coach Luke Walton has given him for the season, Medina adds. “I was just terrible on that end, taking wrong angles, wasn’t there on tags and wasn’t there on late closeouts,” Clarkson said of his 2015/16 performance. “It got to the point where it was bad. We were a bad defensive team as a whole last year. But I take it upon myself really to improve on that.

Contract Details: Brand, Rockets, Thunder, Pacers

With training camps underway, teams have now officially finalized the contract agreements with various camp invitees that had been reported over the past several weeks, meaning we have plenty of contract details to round up. As usual, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has been busy reporting those details, updating his salary pages for teams around the NBA.

Because we have so many updates to pass along from Pincus, we’ll divide them up by players who received some guaranteed money from their teams, and those who didn’t. All of the links below point to the Basketball Insiders team salary pages, so be sure to click through for additional information.

Here are the latest salary updates from across the league, via Pincus:

Players receiving guaranteed money:

These players aren’t necessarily assured of regular-season roster spots. In fact, many of them likely received guarantees as an incentive to accept a D-League assignment. Still, for some players, larger guarantees should increase their odds of making 15-man rosters.

  • Thomas Walkup (Bulls): One year, minimum salary. $69.5K guaranteed.
  • Keith Benson (Heat): Two years, minimum salary. $75K guaranteed.
  • Henry Sims (Jazz): One year, minimum salary. $75K guaranteed.
  • Alex Poythress (Pacers): One year, minimum salary. $35,381 guaranteed.
  • Kevin Seraphin (Pacers): Two years, $3.681MM. First year ($1.8MM) guaranteed.
  • Julyan Stone (Pacers): One year, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Gary Payton II (Rockets): Two years, minimum salary. First year ($543,471) guaranteed.
  • Isaiah Taylor (Rockets): Two years, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Kyle Wiltjer (Rockets): Two years, minimum salary. $275K guaranteed.
  • Cat Barber (Sixers): One year, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Elton Brand (Sixers): One year, minimum salary. $1MM guaranteed.
  • Derrick Jones (Suns): Three years, minimum salary. $42.5K guaranteed.
  • Alex Caruso (Thunder): One year, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Kaleb Tarczewski (Thunder): One year, minimum salary. $75K guaranteed.
  • Chris Wright (Thunder): One year, minimum salary. $100K guaranteed.

Players receiving no guaranteed money:

The following players all signed one-year, minimum salary contracts with no guaranteed money. Many of these deals are “summer contracts,” which won’t count against a team’s cap unless the player earns a spot on the 15-man roster.

Los Angeles Notes: Lakers, Clippers, World Peace

Back in 2014, top Lakers executive Jim Buss vowed in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that if the franchise didn’t return to Western Conference contention within three or four years, he would resign. However, as Bill Oram of The Orange County Register observes, comments made by Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak this week suggest a less aggressive timeline. While Kupchak said the team needs to improve on last year’s win total (17) by more than just “a game or two,” he stopped short of setting any specific goals related to win totals or playoff contention, and it sounds as if he’s in no rush to hurry along the rebuild. Whether Buss will continue to stick the contention timeline he established publicly two years ago remains to be seen.

Let’s round up a few more notes from out of Los Angeles…

  • As he did a year ago, Metta World Peace will have to “earn his way” onto the Lakers‘ 15-man regular-season roster, Kupchak confirmed on Tuesday (Twitter links via Serena Winters of LakersNation.com). According to Kupchak, the veteran forward knows there’s a possibility he may not remain with the team when the regular season gets underway.
  • As usual, the Clippers will head into the season without a standout player at the small forward position, prompting Doc Rivers to suggest that the competition for the starting spot is “wide open.” Dan Woike of The Orange County Register has the details and the quotes.
  • In a separate piece for The Register, Woike notes that the Clippers significantly bolstered their basketball operations staff this year, having been “understaffed” in the past, per Rivers.
  • The Clippers‘ title window remains open for now, but with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick eligible to reach the open market in 2017, Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times examines how much time the team will have before that window closes.

Lakers Sign Metta World Peace

SEPTEMBER 23rd: The signing is official, the team announced.

SEPTEMBER 21st, 2:09pm: World Peace’s deal with the Lakers will be non-guaranteed, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Meanwhile, the veteran forward tells Mike Bresnahan of TWC SportsNet (Twitter link) that he’s “very excited” about rejoining the Lakers and heading to training camp next week. He also confirms that he’s signing a one-year, non-guaranteed pact (Twitter link).Metta World Peace vertical

1:26pm: The Lakers have struck a deal to re-sign veteran free agent Metta World Peace, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). While specific details of the agreement have not yet been reported, a one-year, minimum-salary pact seems likely for World Peace.

Although he’ll turn 37 this November, World Peace had indicated last month that he “absolutely” intended to continue his NBA playing career. “I’m waiting for teams. I can still play. I can play, it’s not even a question, man,” World Peace said at the time. “But, you know, sometimes you don’t get in the game, man. What are you going to do? I’m not going to be upset, I’m going to support. So if I don’t play, like this year on the Lakers I could have averaged 15 or 20 on the Lakers if I played, easily. But you know, I’ll be supportive [if I don’t play].”

Averaging 16.9 minutes per game in 35 contests for the Lakers last season, World Peace fell well short of the “15 or 20” points per game he thought he could have scored with more playing time. For the year, he shot a career-low 31.1% from the floor en route to averaging just 5.0 PPG and 2.5 RPG.

Byron Scott, the head coach of the 2015/16 Lakers, seemed somewhat resistant to giving big minutes to his young players, which opened the door for veterans like World Peace to get some playing time. It’s unclear whether new coach Luke Walton will give his former teammate that same opportunity.

The man formerly known as Ron Artest may not even be assured of a roster spot in Los Angeles. The team is currently carrying 14 players on fully guaranteed contracts, with Yi Jianlian – who has a partially guaranteed deal that’s heavy on incentives – also expected to make the regular-season roster. If World Peace makes the team, it’s possible he’ll get Nick Young‘s spot, since Young has long been considered a release candidate for the Lakers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details For Thomas Robinson, Tarik Black

  • Thomas Robinson received a non-guaranteed, one-year summer contract from the Lakers, Pincus tweets. Robinson’s non-guaranteed $1,050,961 salary is the same figure he would have been guaranteed if he’d exercised his player option with the Nets back in June.
  • Pincus passes along another Lakers contract note, tweeting that Tarik Black‘s new deal includes a 10% trade kicker.

Lakers Sign Thomas Robinson

3:01pm: The Lakers have officially signed Robinson, the team announced in a press release.

2:04pm: Robinson will get a non-guaranteed deal from the Lakers, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).Thomas Robinson vertical

1:57pm: The Lakers have added another free agent forward to their roster, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who reports that the team has reached a deal with Thomas Robinson. With Robinson and Metta World Peace now in the mix, Los Angeles has reached the 20-man offseason roster limit.

The fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Robinson hasn’t lived up to his billing as a top prospect since entering the NBA, averaging just 4.9 PPG and 4.8 RPG in 265 career appearances. However, he flashed some promise down the stretch last season in a very small sample for the Nets — in his final seven games (six starts), Robinson averaged a double-double, with 13.4 PPG and 11.4 RPG.

After opting out of his contract with the Nets in June, Robinson was linked to several teams during his free agency, including the Mavericks, Wolves, Pelicans, Spurs, Pacers, Suns, and Hawks. In the end, none of those teams opted to take a flier on the former Kansas standout, leaving the door open for the Lakers to bring him to camp.

With 14 players on guaranteed salaries and Yi Jianlian also expected to make the team, the Lakers don’t have any obvious openings on their roster. However, Nick Young is considered a release candidate, and it’s possible preseason performances could affect the Lakers’ roster decisions.

Robinson will join World Peace, Travis Wear, Julian Jacobs, and Zach Auguste as the five Lakers’ camp invitees on the outside looking in, hoping to impress coaches and earn a 15-man roster spot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Will Signing Deng, Mozgov Pan Out?

Yi Jianlian Not Worried About Re-Adjusting To NBA

Yi Jianlian will return to the NBA this season for the first time since the 2011/12 campaign, and while his one-year contract with the Lakers is mostly non-guaranteed and packed with incentives, the fact that it can be worth up to $8MM suggests the team believes the Chinese forward can be productive. For his part, Yi says he’s not worried about re-adjusting to the NBA after spending the last several seasons in China.

“I think I’ll have no problem with that,” Yi said, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com. “I can do it.”

Of course, given Yi’s history, one could argue that it won’t be a matter of re-adjusting to the NBA — it’ll be a matter of simply adjusting, since his first stint stateside didn’t go all that well. After being selected sixth overall in the 2007 draft, the seven-footer played for four NBA teams in five seasons, averaging 7.9 PPG and 4.9 RPG with a shooting line of .404/.333/.780 in 272 career contests.

Still, Yi did show flashes of promise during his time in the NBA, averaging 12.0 PPG and 7.9 RPG with a .366 3PT% in 2009/10 for the Nets. As Holmes details, the 28-year-old believes that all of the experience he has gained playing in China for the last few seasons – and for the Chinese Olympic team – has helped him get stronger and more confident.

Yi will also face less pressure this time around, as a complementary veteran on a rebuilding club, rather than a top-10 pick viewed as the future of a franchise. According to Holmes, Yi viewed the timing as right for an NBA return, and said that joining the Lakers is a “good opportunity” for him.

Profile Of Brian Keefe

Brian Keefe, the Lakers‘ new player development coach, has experience with young rosters, having been a member of the Sonics staff beginning the year Kevin Durant was drafted, Joey Ramirez of NBA.com writes in his profile of the coach. Keefe understands there will be growing pains for L.A.’s young roster, but he believes in the end that the team will reap the rewards, Ramirez adds. “We started off a little slow, didn’t have a lot of success right away,” Keefe said of his time with the Sonics/Thunder. “Those guys kind of created an organization, because it was really a new organization when it went to Oklahoma City. They really put an imprint on the whole thing. … Obviously it was an unbelievable experience. We had a lot of success, a lot of deep playoff runs.

  • The crew over at Basketball Insiders weighed in on Lakers‘ chances this season, with the majority of the writers predicting the franchise would finish last in the Pacific Division in 2016/17.

Traded First-Round Picks For 2017 NBA Draft

The 2017 NBA draft is still more than nine months away, but with the start of the regular season fast approaching, it’s worth taking stock of how this season’s results will affect next year’s draft. Depending on how certain teams perform during the 2016/17 campaign, other clubs will have the opportunity to pick up an extra first-round selection, or to swap first-rounders with those teams.

There’s a good chance that a few more 2017 first-round selections will change hands before the 2017 trade deadline, or on draft night next June, but many picks have already been included in trades. Five teams currently have the opportunity to grab an extra first-rounder in 2017, while two other teams could have the chance to move up in the first round by swapping picks with another club.

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the first-round picks that could (or will) change hands. For each selection, we make a note of which team is sending and receiving it, the protection on the pick, and what will happen if the protection language prevents the pick from being conveyed. For instance, the Bulls are on track to receive the Kings’ first-round pick, but only if it falls outside the top 10. If Sacramento’s pick is a top-10 selection, the Bulls will instead receive the Kings’ second-rounder.

Here’s a breakdown of the traded first-round picks for 2017:

Traded first-round picks:

Chicago Bulls

  • From: Sacramento Kings
  • Protection: 1-10
  • If not conveyed: Bulls will instead receive Kings’ second-round pick (protected 56-60).

Denver Nuggets

  • From: Memphis Grizzlies
  • Protection: 1-5
  • If not conveyed: Nuggets will have chance to get Grizzlies’ 2018 first-rounder (protected 1-5).

Philadelphia 76ers

  • From: Los Angeles Lakers
  • Protection: 1-3
  • If not conveyed: Sixers will get Lakers’ 2018 first-rounder (unprotected).

Toronto Raptors

  • From: Los Angeles Clippers
  • Protection: 1-14
  • If not conveyed: Raptors will have a chance to get Clippers’ 2018 first-rounder (protected 1-14).

Utah Jazz

  • From: Golden State Warriors
  • Protection: None

Pick swaps are rarer than simple pick trades, but they’re often included in deals to get around the fact that teams can’t trade consecutive future first-round picks. For instance, in the Nets/Celtics blockbuster that saw Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett land in Brooklyn, Boston received the Nets’ 2014, 2016, and 2018 first-rounders, plus first-round swap rights in 2017. The Nets couldn’t leave themselves without first-round picks in back-to-back future seasons, so giving the Celtics the right to swap selections ensured that the Nets would still have a 2017 first-rounder — either their own or Boston’s.

That pick swap is one of two that could be in play this season. Here they are:

Potential first-round pick swaps:

Boston Celtics

  • Can swap with: Brooklyn Nets
  • Protection: None
  • If Celtics choose to swap, they’d owe Nets their second-round pick (protected 31-45).

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Can swap with: Sacramento Kings
  • Protection: 11-30 (can only swap if Kings’ pick falls in top 10)
  • If Kings’ pick falls between 11-30, their obligation to Sixers is extinguished.

RealGM’s database of future traded pick details was used in the creation of this post.

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