11:49am: The Lakers and Clark are close to agreement on a one-year contract that would be for a pro-rated portion of the veteran’s minimum, reports Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
9:08am: The sides are working toward what would be a one-year deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
9:03am: The Lakers and Earl Clark have engaged in a “level of dialogue” about a possible deal, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. The five-year veteran’s name wasn’t among the several who were linked to the club last week, but the Lakers know him well, since he enjoyed a career year in purple-and-gold during the 2012/13 season.
Clark is averaging 28.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 35.8 minutes per game across four appearances so far for the Rockets D-League affiliate this season. Houston briefly had him on its NBA roster after claiming his training camp deal off waivers from the Grizzlies, but the Rockets waived him before opening night. The Rockets reportedly have interest in Al Harrington, another forward whose game is somewhat similar, but there have been no reports indication that Houston is thinking about bringing Clark back to the big club.
The 26-year-old put up 5.3 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 12.5 MPG for Memphis during the preseason, failing to stick even though the Grizzlies began the regular season with an open roster spot. Clark’s career has hit the skids ever since he signed a two-year, $8.5MM deal with the Cavs in 2013, a pact that he and agent Kevin Bradbury were able to land in large measure because of the performance Clark delivered for the Lakers. He averaged 11.6 PPG and 9.2 RPG with 37.8% three-point shooting during a 22-game hot streak in the middle of his year with L.A., but he failed to match that production for Cleveland, which shipped him to the Sixers at the deadline last season. Philadelphia promptly waived him, and apart from a pair of 10-day contracts with the Knicks, Clark hasn’t appeared on a regular season roster since.
The Lakers recently received a nearly $4.851MM Disabled Player Exception for Steve Nash to go with the Disabled Player Exception worth almost $1.499MM that they have for Julius Randle, but it seems unlikely that it would take more than the minimum salary to sign Clark. The team has a full 15-man roster, though the Lakers have enough injured players to qualify for a 16th roster spot if they were to apply for one and the league were to grant it. Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington, who have partially guaranteed deals for the minimum, are the only two Lakers without fully guaranteed contracts.
The NBA has granted the Lakers a disabled player exception in response to the season-ending injury that Steve Nash suffered, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). The exception will be valued at half of Nash’s 2014/15 salary, which means it will be worth nearly $4.851MM, notes Windhorst. The Lakers will have until March 10th to acquire a player whose salary fits into that allotment by signing a free agent or by claiming a player off waivers, and they can trade for a player who makes the value of the exception plus $100K anytime between now and the trade deadline. No matter the method of acquisition, the contract for whomever they’d add couldn’t run past this season.
This is the second such allowance that Los Angeles has been approved for this season. The franchise had previously been granted a disabled player exception in response to the season-ending injury that rookie Julius Randle suffered on opening night. That exception was worth $1,498,680, which was half of Randle’s salary for this season.
Being granted the exception will aid the Lakers in adding a new player by allowing them to exceed the salary cap, but with the team’s roster currently at 15 players, Los Angeles would need to waive or trade a player in order to add another healthy body to its roster, as the league-maximum roster count limit still applies.
The Lakers could avoid waiving a player if they apply for a hardship provision, which would allow the team to add a 16th player. With Nash, Randle, and Xavier Henry all out for the season, along with Ryan Kelly, who’s expected to be out at least another four weeks with a torn right hamstring, Los Angeles would certainly meet the criteria to be granted the extra roster spot. But once Kelly was able to make his return, the Lakers would need to pare down the roster to 15 players, so that would only be a temporary solution to their personnel woes.
TUESDAY, 2:04pm: Henry is expected to recover in time to for the start of next season, the Lakers note amid an announcement acknowledging that he underwent surgery today. Henry’s contract only covers this season, however, so he’ll have to convince teams that he’s healthy in free agency.
MONDAY, 6:33pm: The Lakers have confirmed that Henry is expected to be out for the rest of the season, the team announced. He’ll have surgery Tuesday.
5:09pm: The MRI showed that the Achilles is torn, and Henry will miss the rest of the season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter).
2:31pm: The Lakers suspect that Xavier Henry ruptured his left Achilles tendon during practice today, the team announced (Twitter link). Henry is undergoing an MRI to confirm the initial diagnosis. The injury would probably knock the 23-year-old out for the season, though there’s no timetable yet. The team is already expected to be without Steve Nash and No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle for the rest of 2014/15.
Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding suggested recently that the Lakers were likely to release Henry if they signed Quincy Miller, one of several players the Lakers reportedly worked out in the past several days. The Lakers used a portion of their room exception to re-sign Henry this summer to a fully guaranteed one-year deal for $1.082MM, but he’s struggled to come back from a series of injuries that have plagued him since his hot start for the Lakers last season. The 12th overall pick from the 2010 draft is averaging just 2.2 points in 9.6 minutes per game in nine regular season appearances so far this year.
Henry’s deal is one of 13 fully guaranteed pacts for the Lakers, who also have Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington on partially guaranteed contracts, as our roster counts show. Ryan Kelly is out at least another five weeks with a torn right hamstring, so a long-term injury for Henry would put the Lakers in line to receive a 16th roster spot if they apply for one and if the league allows it. The NBA has already granted a Disabled Player Exception for Randle, which lets the Lakers exceed the minimum salary to sign a player, and the team’s application for a more sizable DPE for Nash, which would be worth nearly $4.851MM, is still pending, as we passed along earlier today.
The Lakers are in contact with the NBA about “roster possibilities” in the wake of Xavier Henry‘s season-ending torn Achilles, tweets Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. The team will probably apply for a Disabled Player Exception for Henry, according to fellow Times scribe Eric Pincus (Twitter link). That’s even though the $541K exception would only be useful to acquire a player making a prorated salary. Here’s more on the Lakers and a few of their Western Conference foes:
- There’s a strong possibility that the Lakers will cut Ronnie Price to bolster their injury-hit roster, as David Pick of Eurobasket.com hears (Twitter links). Price’s minimum salary is partially guaranteed for about $329K, and that guarantee jumps to more than $658K if he remains under contract through December 15th.
- The Timberwolves confirmed today that Kevin Martin had surgery to repair his fractured right wrist that they expect will keep him out about six to eight weeks (Twitter link), echoing an earlier report of that timeframe. The Wolves have considered applying for a 16th roster spot, and if the league grants it, the team would most likely add a post player, as Flip Saunders said Monday to reporters, including Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).
- Dahntay Jones is set to sign with the D-League, reports Gino Pilato of D-League Digest. The 10-year NBA veteran spent the preseason with the Jazz, who cut him before opening night. No D-League team holds the rights to Jones, so the D-League waiver system will determine the identity of his new team, Pilato notes.
- Tyler Ennis is in a tough position in a deep Suns backcourt, but this year’s 18th overall pick doesn’t mind the stigma of his recent four-day D-League assignment, as he told reporters, including Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. “A lot of people look at it as a bad thing, D-League, and think it’s something horrible, but it’s not like we’re stuck down there for the year,” Ennis said. “They let us know they want to see us play and see us stay in shape and we thought it was a good thing as far as us going down and playing well. I think I was able to show that I should be on this [NBA] level.”
Swingman Jordan Hamilton will sign with the D-League, reports Gino Pilato of D-League Digest (Twitter link). The former 26th overall pick in the NBA draft reportedly worked out for the Lakers last week after a brief stint with the Jazz earlier this month. He’ll be subject to the D-League waiver system, according to Pilato, so it’s not yet clear which D-League team he’ll play for.
Hamilton signed this summer with the Raptors on a minimum-salary deal that was partially guaranteed for $25K, and despite a strong performance in the preseason, when he averaged 9.5 points on 54.5% three-point shooting in 18.3 minutes per game, Toronto let him go just before opening night. The Jazz claimed him off waivers, but he didn’t appear in any of Utah’s first five games and the Jazz put him back on waivers a little more than a week into the season. The Aaron Mintz client was one of several players to try out for the Lakers last week, but the team has so far elected not to make a move. Hamilton’s decision to sign with the D-League will keep him available to ink with any NBA team should he draw interest.
The 24-year-old has spent most of his career with the Nuggets, who acquired him on draft night in 2011. They declined their fourth-year team option on his rookie scale contract, which would have covered this season with about $2.11MM in guaranteed salary, and shipped him to the Rockets at the deadline last season.
Goran Dragic may have a lot of influence in Phoenix, but he tells Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders that he didn’t use that power to get the Suns to sign his brother. Zoran Dragic inked a two-year guaranteed deal in September.
“To be honest I never mentioned my brother (to GM Ryan McDonough),” Goran said. “This summer when we played the World Cup, Ryan was in Barcelona and he called me. He wanted to take me to dinner and asked if I could bring my brother, so I didn’t know anything. I thought he was being polite. When we went to the restaurant he started asking questions to Zoran and I was like, what is going on? Then I heard all the rumors coming out on the Internet, and I started thinking maybe this could happen.”
There’s more news from the Western Conference:
- Commissioner Adam Silver discussed his decision-making regarding former Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s ouster and identified a harder salary cap as the first change he would make happen if he could do so unilaterally as he spoke with Chuck Klosterman for GQ.com. “I still think it’s unhealthy for the league when a team like Brooklyn goes out and pays an exorbitant luxury tax in order to give themselves a better chance to win,” Silver said. “From a league-office standpoint, the ideal league would be for all thirty teams to compete based on the skill of their management and players, as opposed to one team paying more to get better talent. So creating a more even system would be at the top of my list.”
- Steve Nash may be out for the season, but the Lakers are hoping he can help them in another way, writes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. He says L.A. is hoping future free agents — specifically the Thunder’s Kevin Durant — notice the loyalty the Lakers displayed by not stretching Nash’s contract or trying to get him to accept a reduced buyout.
- The Rockets recalled Nick Johnson from Rio Grand Valley of the D-League, the team announced. Johnson, the 42nd pick in this year’s NBA draft, has seen little action for Houston, with just two points and one rebound in 11 minutes of court time.
The Lakers appear to be holding off on making any moves after setting up workouts with a flurry of players last week. None of the prospective Lakers seemed to offer the club much hope of major improvement to its 3-11 record, one that would be the worst mark in the Western Conference were it not for the injury-hit Thunder. Here’s more on the struggling purple-and-gold:
- The Lakers reportedly reached out to Kyle Lowry this summer, but they told the point guard and agent Andy Miller that they wouldn’t make him an offer until they heard from LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony first, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports. Lowry agreed on the second day of free agency to re-sign with the Raptors, well ahead of the time that James and Anthony made their respective decisions.
- Isaiah Thomas told Lowe last month that they were interested in him over the summer, but Lowe writes in his latest piece that the Lakers didn’t have any interest. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has a general policy against signing restricted free agents from other teams to offer sheets because he doesn’t like to tie up his team’s cap room during the three-day period in which the other club can match, sources tell Lowe.
- The application for a nearly $4.851MM Disabled Player Exception for Steve Nash that the Lakers submitted to the league is still pending, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). An NBA-designated physician must determine that Nash is significantly more likely to miss the rest of the season than not before the league grants the exception, as Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ makes clear.
The Rockets’ Dwight Howard is out indefinitely after undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy on his strained right knee, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Coach Kevin McHale said there is no timetable for the center to return after going through the PRP therapy that Kobe Bryant experimented with in 2013. “It feels a lot better,” Howard said after the treatment. “I had to get a shot in it to clear some of the stuff out of it. I’m trying to do whatever I can to get back on the floor.”
Here’s more from around the Western Conference:
- The Wolves’ Flip Saunders has been putting in late hours trying to find a replacement for the injured Kevin Martin, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Martin is out indefinitely after breaking his right wrist Wednesday, adding to an injury list that already includes Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf. Saunders, who serves as team president and coach, has been talking to agents and looking at D-League prospects for potential roster help.
- The injury news is better in Oklahoma City, where Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook participated in practice Saturday, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. The Thunder stars were limited to a few non-contact drills, but coach Scott Brooks was encouraged. “They looked good,” Brooks said. “They’ve been with the group the whole time, but (Saturday) was the first day they’ve actually participated in some of the drills.” Durant, the league’s reigning MVP, had surgery on his right foot. Westbrook has a surgically repaired right hand. Both are scheduled to have their medical progress evaluated this week.
- Kobe Bryant’s refusal to demand a trade from the Lakers undermines his public image as a cut-throat competitor, opines Shaun Powell of NBA.com. Powell notes that the woeful Lakers were in a similar situation a decade ago, and Bryant responded by threatening to sign with the Clippers if the talent around him didn’t improve. This time, Powell says, Bryant “agreed to serve as the conductor” on a train wreck in exchange for a two-year, $48MM contract extension that runs through next season.
The Lakers are not making any immediate roster moves after holding free agent workouts this week, according to David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). Los Angeles brought in Roscoe Smith for a tryout yesterday. Smith joined Gal Mekel, Jordan Hamilton, Dwight Buycks, Quincy Miller and Tyrus Thomas as players who are candidates for a roster spot on the team. The 3-10 Lakers will host the Nuggets on Sunday after giving up 140 points to the Mavs on Friday night.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- The Mavs and Rockets squared off in Houston tonight and Chandler Parsons reflects on his relationship with his old team, writes Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle. “This was home for me for three years so I have no hard feelings toward them,” Parsons said. “It obviously got a little ugly during free agency but (Rockets general manager) Daryl (Morey) told me it was gonna, so it didn’t surprise anyone. That’s just how it goes and it’s business and at the end of the day, my friendship with these guys will stay the same.” The stellar play of Parsons has been key to the Mavs offense, which is scoring a league-best 111.3 points per game this season.
- The injuries to the Thunder this season could help the team in the long run, opines Benjamin Hoffman of the New York Times. Hoffman looks at the 1996/97 season, when the Spurs lost David Robinson to an injury and ended up with the top pick in the 1997 draft, as a potential blueprint for what Oklahoma City could strive for this year. Entering Saturday, the Thunder own a record of 3-11, which is second worst in the league. While this strategy might be tempting, Hoffman notes that more likely than not, the next top pick isn’t another player of Tim Duncan‘s caliber.
- The rash of injuries to the Thunder have allowed Serge Ibaka to include the three-point shot in his game more frequently, and this new wrinkle isn’t going anywhere once the team’s stars return, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. “I think it continues,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “He doesn’t necessarily have to live out there and shoot 10 a game. But three or four a game is a good number for him.” Ibaka is shooting 38.3% on 60 attempts from behind the arc in 14 games this year, which already ties his career high.
- The Lakers have assigned Jordan Clarkson and Xavier Henry to the D-League, the team announced. The pair went to the D-League for a one-day assignment a week ago.
Kobe Bryant has been criticized for the Lakers‘ current woes because of his two-year, $48.5MM contract extension, which, despite Bryant granting the team a small discount, is looked at as a huge reason that Los Angeles is likely headed for the draft lottery for a second straight year, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. Speaking about his contract, Bryant said, “Did I take a discount? Yeah. Did I take as big a discount as some of you fans would want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah.”
Here’s more from out west:
- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the discount his star Dirk Nowitzki accepted when re-signing with the team made a huge impact in helping shape their roster, and Cuban took a not so subtle poke at Bryant, Holmes adds. “To me, it’s not about money, it’s about winning,” Cuban said. “Different players have different attitudes. Could a player make $24 million in the NBA’s current punitive financial climate [as Bryant does this season] and legitimately say they’re interested in winning? Yeah, of course, as long as you can convince everybody else that you need to come play for the minimum.”
- Bryant also weighed in on the fans who think players should take less so franchises can build winning teams, Dwain Price of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. “It’s the popular thing to do — the player takes less, blah blah, blah, blah,” Bryant said. “I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money, because if you don’t, then you get criticized for it. It’s absolutely brilliant. But I’m not going for it. I know that the new head of the players association [Michele Roberts] ain’t going for it either.”
- DeMarcus Cousins credits his increased maturity this season to his time spent with Team USA this past summer, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders writes. The Kings‘ center said, “It [playing in the FIBA tournament] helped out a lot. I’d say the biggest thing is learning how to sacrifice for your team. Doing the small things to help the team. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken away. I mean, I played with an incredible group of guys, a very talented group of guys. So, me playing the way I usually play, it wasn’t really needed for the team.”