JULY 28th, 4:15pm: The Lakers have officially announced the signing, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (on Twitter).
JULY 18th: The Lakers will sign Wesley Johnson to a one-year contract, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. Broussard’s source sets the deal at $1MM, which is slightly above the minimum for a player of Johnson’s tenure. It’s possible that amount is rounded up from the minimum, although that’s just my speculation.
Recently, the odds seemed low that Johnson would return to Los Angeles. The fifth-year small forward had shown early interest in returning to the purple and gold after having his best season as a pro with the Lakers last season. On a team gutted by injuries, the former No. 4 pick started 62 games, averaging career highs in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks per game.
The Landmark Sports Agency, Inc. client has never averaged double-digit scoring in a season, with a disappointing career average of 8.1 PPG. Johnson’s athleticism is still an asset, and he will hope to stick in a rotation that projects to be more complete, if not highly competitive, next year. No other teams had been reported as interested in the wing prior to the news of his return.
Every coach in the Pacific Division next season will be in either his first or second season on the job. Presumably that group will include Byron Scott, who says he has just a few loose ends to tie up before he’s the next coach of the Lakers. Here’s more from the Pacific:
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are confident that the Warriors aren’t looking to break up the “Splash Brothers” backcourt tandem with a trade that sends Thompson to the Wolves for Kevin Love, as the Golden State guards tell Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Thompson said new coachSteve Kerr gave him the “vibe” that he won’t be traded. Kerr is reportedly among the advocates within the team’s brass for keeping Thompson.
Matt Barnes said it’s realistic that Clippers players would boycott if Donald Sterling remains the owner into next season, as he said in an appearance on The Chris Mannix Show on NBC Sports Radio (Facebook link; hat tip to USA Today’s Nina Mandell). Still, he acknowledged that with the process tied up in court, he just wants to see the NBA move “swiftly and abruptly” toward Sterling’s ouster. ““It’s tough,” he said. “I think you guys [the media] are like we are, we’re not exactly sure how far they can push it. We know where they stand and what they want. At the end of the day it comes down to legalities and business, stuff that has to be handled in a court of law. It’s a very touchy, very iffy situation. We’re about two months out from camp, and I think as it gets closer and as we get a better understand of what’s going to happen I think you will have a better idea of what we are going to do.”
MONDAY, 8:28pm: There are minor details left to work out, but the main terms of the deal have been agreed upon, Scott tells Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link).
SATURDAY: 10:20pm: Medina writes that Scott was under the impression he had reached an agreement with Los Angeles, while the Lakers are claiming negotiations could take a couple more days to complete.
10:01pm: The Lakers have maintained to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News that negotiations are still ongoing with Scott (Twitter link). That would contradict the reported agreement, which Medina had confirmed earlier, presumably with a different source (on Twitter).
9:01pm: The Lakers have agreed to terms with Byron Scott, who will become the new head coach in Los Angeles, as first reported by Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (onTwitter). The deal is for four-years and $17MM, the fourth year being a team option. The deal has been in the works since yesterday, when some reports indicated the team had offered him the job.
As expected, the contract comes in at a lower salary than recent first-year coaching hires Derek Fisher and Steve Kerr, although not dramatically so. The length of the deal would suggest that the Lakers are planning to let Scott guide the team through what will likely be some difficult seasons in the immediate future. Of course, the team has shuffled through two coaches on long-term contracts the past two seasons, so Scott will still need to perform well to truly feel secure. The team is poised to miss the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time in five decades, and barring a major haul in next year’s free agency, isn’t positioned to scale back to the top of the Western Conference next year.
Los Angeles took the most time of any team in filling its coaching vacancy this summer, as the front office committed to a methodical search and an aggressive free agency period. Scott has long considered himself the favorite for the job, and was reported as the Lakers front-runner in late June. Scott’s history with the organization and his relationship with Kobe Bryant were factors that worked in his favor.
Scott will join his fourth NBA team as head coach. The coaching veteran and former Lakers player has compiled a career 416-521 record on the bench. Scott guided the Nets to two Finals appearances early in his coaching career and took New Orleans into the playoffs in consecutive seasons later in his career, but has led losing efforts in every other season. Most recently, Scott’s Cavs teams finished with 24 wins or fewer in each of his three seasons in Cleveland.
While most teams with coaching vacancies scrambled to make their hire prior to the June draft, the Lakers had no problem taking their time. At long last, however, their search just might be over. We’re still waiting on an announcement, but it appears that the Lakers are nearing agreement with Byron Scott on a contract that will make him the 25th coach in franchise history.
In an offseason where coaching neophytes Steve Kerr and Derek Fisherboth landed lucrative deals and rising sophomore Jason Kidd jumped ship from the Nets to the Bucks with a hefty pay raise, the Lakers apparently valued experience. Scott’s career 416-521 record on the bench leaves something to be desired, but it’d be unfair to judge Scott purely on wins and losses considering some of the teams he managed, including the LeBron-less Cavs. Scott’s first foray into being a head coach was a rousing success, of course, as he guided the Nets to back-to-back Eastern Conference championships in 2001/02 and 2002/03 after a trying 2000/01. Those Nets were unceremoniously swept in the 2002 Finals by the Lakers but the 2003 team pushed a very talented Spurs squad to a six game series.
The Lakers considered other familiar names for the opening, including Lionel Hollins, George Karl, Alvin Gentry,Mike Dunleavy, and Kurt Rambis, but Scott was likely the pick thanks to his combination of experience and history with the Lakers franchise. Scott’s eleven career seasons in purple and gold was a definite foot in the door and it probably helped that his final season in Los Angeles was Kobe Bryant‘s first. As Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com noted, Bryant recently gave his blessing for the Lakers to hire Scott.
“He was my rookie mentor when I first came into the league,” Bryant said. “So I had to do things like get his doughnuts and run errands for him and things like that. We’ve had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years. So, obviously, I know him extremely well. He knows me extremely well. I’ve always been a fan of his.”
We’re pretty sure we know how Kobe would vote, but we want to know what you think. Is Scott the right man for the job in Los Angeles?
While he believes that Byron Scott is a good coach, Tom Ziller of SB Nation doesn’t think Scott will solve the Lakers problems. Ziller also believes Los Angeles made a “typical coaching carousel signing” in picking up Scott, whom Ziller describes as “an undervalued, affordable coach” despite the team’s ability to afford any coach they wanted.
Here’s more from around the league:
Donatas Motiejunas, when discussing former teammate Chandler Parsons who left the Rockets to sign a three-year, $46.08MM deal with the Mavericks, told Simonas Baranauskas of Lithuania Basket (Twitter link), “He’s a good player, but would it be logical for management to pay him more than James Harden?” Houston declined to match the offer sheet Parsons had signed with the Mavs.
With the NBA discussing extending the All-Star break to seven days, Zach Lowe of Grantland (Twitterlinks) thinks the league should first look to adjust the amount of regular season games played, and doesn’t think the longer break would be a positive if it meant more back-to-back games, or beginning the season at an earlier date.
Pablo Prigioni is glad to be re-united with former Spanish League teammate Jose Calderon on the Knicks, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Prigioni believes Calderon will be able to help New York, saying, “We played together in Spain and we did really well. He is a great player and very good professional, a great 3-point shooting guy. He can run the team and read the game very well and is a good defender. He has all that a good point guard must have.”
In the same article, Prigioni also expressed his positive feelings towards Carmelo Anthony re-signing with the Knicks, saying, “When I saw Melo re-sign, the first thing I did was send him a message saying that I was so happy to have a chance to still play with him. And I told him that I’m sure we will play much better next season.”
Bill Ingram of Basketball Insiders believes that Bucks first-rounder Jabari Parker will have the biggest impact of any rookie this coming season, as well as take home Rookie Of The Year honors.
Heading into this offseason, the chances of Kevin Love heading to the Cavaliers were slim. But that was before LeBron James decided to return his talents to Cleveland. When LeBron announced his decision to sign with the Cavs, he preached patience, and in a move to lower expectations, implied that the team wouldn’t expect to contend for a championship this coming season.
But acquiring a player of Love’s caliber could certainly accelerate that timetable, which is one reason that Cleveland has seemingly been burning up the phone lines trying to work out a deal to acquire the stat-sheet-filling power forward. The feeling is apparently shared by Love, who, as recently reported, may have formally requested a trade to Cleveland via his agent.
Numerous other teams have been attempting to work out a deal, including the Warriors, Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and Knicks. Golden State still appears to be Cleveland’s main competitors for Love, but the Warriors have expressed an unwillingness to include Klay Thompson as part of the deal, which has stalled talks between the two franchises.
The potential blockbuster deal between the Wolves and the Cavs is being complicated by the insistence of Minnesota coach and president of basketball operation Flip Saunders that Cleveland include No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins as part of any package for Love. Wiggins recently signed with the Cavs, so they will have to wait 30 days before they can officially deal him away. But that is only a minor issue if both franchises are serious about making a trade.
Should the Cavs relent and include Wiggins if it nets them Love? Wiggins has a wealth of potential and could turn out to be a superstar, and the type of player you can build a champion around, but he has yet to play a minute of regular season action. Whereas Love has career averages of 19.2 PPG, 12.2 RPG, and 2.5 APG. He’s also only 25 years old and just entering his prime. The knock on Love of course is that in six seasons he has yet to lead his team to the playoffs, and that he is a subpar defender.
As for Wiggins, his value is more theoretical at this point. There have been numerous players, including first overall draft picks, who enter the league being touted as franchise changing talents, only to disappoint and underperform. The ceiling on the rookie appears to be incredibly high, but is holding onto him and gambling he’ll turn out to be a better player than Love worth the risk?
The other aspect to factor in is the leverage that Cleveland may have gained in the trade talks if Love indeed told the Timberwolves that he would opt out after the 2014/15 season and would not re-sign with the team. And if Love also specifically requested a trade to Cleveland, that could complicate matters further.
Cleveland could also decide to hold off on depleting its young assets and simply play out this season with its current roster, then try to clear enough cap room to sign Love next summer outright. This might allow them to keep Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and whichever other pieces, including draft picks, that they would have had to ship to Minnesota to get this deal done, but it would still be a challenge. The Cavs already have more than $48MM in commitments for 2015/16, assuming James opts in and the team picks up its option on Dion Waiters.
So now it’s time for you to step into Cavs GM David Griffin‘s shoes and make the call. Do you relent and include Wiggins if it will bring Love’s talents to Cleveland? Or do you draw a line in the sand and refuse to offer Wiggins, even if it potentially costs you a LeBron-Love pairing?
There have been conflicting reports as to whether or not Byron Scott‘s deal to coach the Lakers has been finalized yet. It would appear that an agreement is imminent though. Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link) reports that the franchise was impressed by Scott’s reputation as a disciplinarian, and believe his temperament is perfect for a younger team.
More reactions to Scott’s possible hiring:
In an article by Sam Amick of USA Today, Scott weighed in on potentially returning to the Lakers franchise as a head coach, saying, “It feels fantastic. This is a dream come true. I always wanted to coach the Lakers, especially when I got to coaching. It’s so unreal. I have to thank (Lakers general manager) Mitch (Kupchak), (Lakers president and governor) Jeanie (Buss) and (executive vice president of player personnel) Jim Buss to give me this opportunity. I really believe that they wanted to do the diligence and to make sure that I was the right guy…I know there were other candidates out there, and I felt like that with each meeting I thought was better and better, and I felt like they had a better understanding of what I was all about. I thought that the last few hires in their minds, they were a little hasty with, and so on this one, they took their time to make sure I was the right guy for this situation. Again, I think it worked out well for both sides.”
Carlos Boozer supports the Lakers potential hiring of Scott, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Boozer said, “Well if [Scott] is the coach, that’s terrific. Obviously, he was a great player – you know – a ‘Laker Legend’ of course, but also was a good coach in the NBA for a long time and for a couple different teams. He brings great experience, and obviously knows the NBA very, very well. I think that he could add a lot to our team. I’d be interested to have a conversation with him to find out how he views our team and how he wants to utilize all of us.“
In Kennedy’s article, Kobe Bryant also weighed in on Scott, saying “We’ve had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years. So, obviously I know him extremely well. He knows me extremely well. I’ve always been a fan of his.” Scott an he were teammates during Bryant’s rookie year.
Had Steve Mills not taken a front office job with the Knicks, he’d still be a leading candidate to take over the head of the NBA Player’s Association, writes Keith Schlosser of the Knicks Blog. The strong working relationship Mills has built with Phil Jackson seemingly makes it unlikely he’d consider bowing out from his job in New York to pursue an opportunity with the NBAPA, says Schlosser. Here’s a roundup from around the league:
Several teams have expressed interest in unrestricted free agent Michael Beasley, reports Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter). Front offices are intrigued by the efficiency and maturity that the former second-overall pick put on display with the Heat last season, hears Kennedy.
One potential fit for Beasley might be the Lakers, opines Kennedy, who notes that the forward is currently working out with Kevin Durant in Los Angeles (Twitter link).
Two rule changes are being discussed that would further push the D-League toward a future where one-to-one affiliate relationships exist for every NBA team, sources tell Gino Pilato of DLeagueDigest.com. One of the potential changes would expand the amount of players cut from training camp a team could protect with assignment rights, and the other would eliminate the ability for D-League clubs to add players by tryout, tipping the scales further toward one-to-one roster building that more closely resembles a minor league system.
Pilato adds that the outcome of the Thunder‘s handling of Josh Huestis is a significant factor in whether the D-League, currently without a president, will be further pressed into a one-to-one structure.
Kevin Love and the Wolves were likely on the same page regarding his decision to sit out this summer’s Team USA activity, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com. Mannix gets the sense that both sides were in favor of a cautious approach so that an injury won’t throw a wrench in the trade market for Love. Here’s more from out West:
The Wolves’ chance to convince Love to remain in Minnesota beyond this season has passed, writes Charley Walters of St. Paul Pioneer Press. Walters says the power forward will not be persuaded at this point, and that his preference is to play with LeBron James in Cleveland, which aligns with the rumored trade request we passed along this morning.
Eric Bledsoe made his first public comments regarding his free agency status to Fox TV Birmingham, saying he feels the Suns are “using rules against me” (hat tip to Jude LaCava of Fox 10 Phoenix, Twitter link), Bledsoe’s remark further indicates a seemingly sour feeling between the two camps. Here’s a look at the latest from all three of the Western Conference’s divisions:
The Jazz are set to hire Patrick Beilein to work as an assistant coach on Quin Snyder‘s staff, reveals Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Beilein is the son of University of Michigan head coach John Beilein.
Will Barton‘s $900K deal with the Blazers is now fully guaranteed, reports Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com. Portland had until July 25th to waive Barton without being on the hook for his entire salary but chose to keep the combo guard on their roster.
While former Mavs forward Shawn Marion would like to secure a deal with a team for the upcoming season, he doesn’t want to force the issue and land in an undesirable situation, passes along Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. “If I see something really comfortable, then I’ll do it,” Marion told Sefko. “Right now, I’m just staying with my [newborn] son and relaxing. It’s only July, man. We got two more months. We’ll just wait and see how it works out.”