The Lakers spent $136MM to bring Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov to Los Angeles, but neither is being used to finish games, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Both offseason signees are in the starting lineup, but coach Luke Walton has been closing out games with younger players. “I think they understand that while we’re trying to win right now … that we’re also trying to develop young players,” Walton said. “I haven’t sat down and talked to them about that but I’m pretty sure, the professionals that they are, they understand that.” Deng signed with the Lakers for $72MM over four years, while Mozgov received $64MM over four seasons.
There’s more tonight from the Western Conference:
- Effort is the main thing the Kings are expecting from second-year big man Willie Cauley-Stein, relays Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee. Cauley-Stein has seen his minutes cut from 21.4 per game to 14.9, but new coach Dave Joerger just wants to see him play hard while he’s on the court. “The energy that he brought is the biggest deal,” Joerger said after Cauley-Stein scored nine points in 12 minutes Tuesday. “When he … gets to the rim, [it] seems like it gets all those guys going a little bit. But he’s up there fullcourt, shadowing the other team’s point guard. He’s fronting a guy, comes over and gets a blocked shot. He’s running the floor.”
- Harrison Barnes looks like a “big-time upgrade” at small forward for the Mavericks, writes Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News. The 24-year-old, who signed as a free agent over the summer, is averaging 22.3 points and 5.9 rebounds through Dallas’ first seven games. The player he replaced, Chandler Parsons, has been dealing with knee problems and recently made his season debut in Memphis.
- After trying to be a veteran leader with the Bulls, Pau Gasol has entered a much more relaxed atmosphere with the Spurs, according to Ben Dowsett of Basketball Insiders. Gasol signed a two-year, $30MM deal this summer and came to a franchise filled with veteran leaders. “You don’t need to be too loud in this locker room, because it’s not like a group of young guys that need more leadership or direction,” Gasol said. “There’s not much need for me to be loud and say much.”