Los Angeles Lakers

Latest On Tampering Charges Against Lakers

As we learned over the weekend, the Lakers are under investigation by the NBA for alleged tampering, with the Pacers questioning L.A.’s involvement in the Paul George situation that continues to play out as he nears 2018 free agency. Although the league only confirmed the news on Sunday, the Pacers initiated the investigation around the time of the 2017 draft, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. Indiana reached an agreement a week after the draft to trade George to Oklahoma City.

As we wait to see how the situation plays out, here are a few items of interest related to the investigation:

  • ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and Bobby Marks have a full FAQ on the investigation, exploring how often tampering charges pan out, and what the penalties typically are in those situations. As Marks notes, teams like the Hawks and Kings have been fined for tampering in recent years, while the Timberwolves faced a much steeper penalty when they were found to have entered into an illegal contract agreement with Joe Smith in the late 1990s — Minnesota lost five first-round picks. If the Lakers are disciplined for tampering, I’d imagine the penalty would look much more like the one levied on Atlanta and Sacramento.
  • We should stop pretending that the NBA cares about its tampering rules, Kevin O’Connor argues in a piece for The Ringer, pointing out that every team is in contact with player agents before free agency officially opens on July 1. Tom Ziller makes a similar case in an article for SBNation.com., writing that what constitutes tampering is “fuzzy and subjective.”
  • Addressing the Lakers/Pacers case specifically, here’s what one agent told O’Connor: “[Lakers GM Rob] Pelinka for sure knows how to tamper without getting caught. Pelinka will do whatever it takes to get players. [President of basketball operations] Magic [Johnson] could easily have done something dumb and got caught for it, though.”
  • It will be virtually impossible to prove the Lakers legitimately tampered with George unless the team left a “paper trail,” says Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk.

Lakers Under Investigation For Tampering

2:21 PM: The Pacers have filed paperwork with the league claiming that the Lakers are guilty of tampering, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, and the league will investigate the possibility of impermissible contact between Johnson and George.

Wojnarowski adds that the Lakers are denying the allegations and they expect to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

9:25 AM: The Pacers are expected to pursue tampering charges against the Lakers regarding Paul George, Peter Vecsey reports on his new pay site, Patreon.

An investigator for the NBA has contacted Lakers President Magic Johnson, GM Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss, according to Vecsey, asking for “any correspondence pertaining to” George, his agent Aaron Mintz and George’s parents.

The Indianapolis Star has reached out to the Pacers and the NBA for confirmation of the report, but neither has responded so far.

Mintz met with Pacers president Kevin Pritchard earlier this summer to inform him that George intended to opt out of his contract next year and planned to leave Indiana. A southern California native, George’s preference has long been rumored as signing with the Lakers. The Pacers found a soft trade market for George, with most of the league believing he is headed to L.A. next summer, and wound up dealing him to Oklahoma City in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

If the Pacers are alleging tampering, they must believe the Lakers had behind-the-scenes contact with the All-Star forward that influenced his plans. L.A. has been been focusing on short-term contracts and is clearly setting up its roster to maximize cap room for next summer, but the league would have have to find concrete evidence of improper contact with George or his representatives to impose any penalties against the team.

Russell Excited About Opportunity In Brooklyn

D’Angelo Russell‘s first reaction upon being traded from the Lakers to the Nets was excitement over the new opportunity, relays Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily. Russell touched on a wide variety of topics during an interview today on WFAN with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. He believes the Nets have an “underrated group of guys” with a mixture of young players and veterans who are ready to exceed expectations.

Russell also brushed aside comments from Lakers executive Magic Johnson about needing a leader and said he’s not upset about being traded. “It’s business, man. That’s how I got to look at it,” Russell said. “A lot of things happen in this league and you don’t agree with it or however you may feel about it and at the end of the day realize it’s business.”

Pacific Notes: Ball, Jackson, Wilson, Suns

Lonzo Ball‘s rise from UCLA standout to the Lakers‘ teenage cornerstone has been largely hyped up by his outspoken father, LaVar Ball. The elder Ball has become a media sensation, known for his flurry of outrageous claims (claiming he can beat Michael Jordan one-on-one) and promotion of his son’s abilities has been front page news since last year. While the world is still learning how to deal with the circus, the younger Ball is not ashamed or surprised at how his father conducts himself in the public eye.

“I think it’s overblown, I mean, that’s how my dad is, I’m used to him acting like that, so it’s nothing new for me,” Ball said in an interview with USA Today. “The way we look at it as a family is positive, you know, we talked it over before all this happened and we all know he’s going to do what he’s going to do. We just look at it as a positive and try to run with it.”

Once the season is underway, and Lonzo tries to live up to LaVar’s promise of leading the Lakers to the playoffs in his first season, past comments will not be relevant anymore. Ball will have to execute his on-court abilities and block out the noise associated with the NBA season. He will seek showing the world that his dad claiming his son is better than Stephen Curry is more than an offhand comment.

Below you can read additional news surrounding the Pacific Division:

  • The Kyrie Irving saga has continued and training camp, followed by the regular season, are all drawing closer. Irving has drawn interest from around the NBA and in his latest piece, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer examines the possibility of Kyrie to the Suns. Specifically, O’Connor addresses Phoenix trading 2017 first rounder Josh Jackson for the NBA champion, ultimately viewing a trade for a proven commodity over keeping an athletic asset with upside a no-brainer.
  • The Clippers‘ deal with Jamil Wilson is a two-year, two-way contract, according to basketball journalist David Pick (via Twitter). Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweeted that $50,000 of Wilson’s first-year salary is guaranteed.
  • In a minor coaching change, the Suns named Jeff Fish the director of performance and head strength and conditioning coach, per a team announcement.

Ball's Presence Leads To National TV Exposure

  • The league’s television partners certainly have Lonzo Ball fever, as evidenced by the Lakers’ 35 nationally-televised games next season, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register notes. That’s the fifth-most national broadcasts among all teams despite the franchise coming off a 26-win season. Much of it can be attributed to lottery pick Ball, both for his passing skills and the hype-man routine of his father LaVar, Oram adds.

Lakers Sign Briante Weber

AUGUST 14: The Lakers have officially signed Weber, the team announced today in a press release. L.A. now has 18 players on NBA contracts and one on a two-way deal, leaving one spot open on the club’s offseason roster.

AUGUST 8: The Lakers are adding a little more backcourt depth to their roster, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who reports (via Twitter) that the club has reached an agreement with free agent point guard Briante Weber on a partially guaranteed deal.

Weber, 24, signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Hornets after the All-Star break last season, then earned a rest-of-season deal from the team. In 13 games in Charlotte, Weber played limited minutes, averaging 3.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 1.2 APG. His contract included a non-guaranteed salary for 2017/18, but the Hornets opted to waive him last month, making him a free agent.

Although Weber’s NBA production has been modest, he filled up the stat sheet in 31 G League games last season, averaging 16.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.3 APG, and 3.3 SPG for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He also posted a shooting line of .455/.356/.778 for the club.

While I wouldn’t necessarily expect Weber to break camp with the Lakers this fall, the team currently only has 14 players on fully guaranteed contracts, so there may be an opportunity for the young guard to earn the final spot on L.A.’s 15-man roster.

And-Ones: Sellers, Superteams, Ayres

After a quiet offseason, the Magic could be one of the league’s biggest sellers, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes. Other teams that could look to aggressively shop their assets include the Suns and Hawks.

Orlando’s front office was smart to lay low and gauge their own in-house talent, Kyler says, now they’ll look to start shaping their future with a number of notable trade chips ranging from Nikola Vucevic on a $12.3MM contract to D.J. Augustin ($7.3MM).

Phoenix, having stockpiled youth for years, could be in a similar boat, eager to unload contributing pieces to the highest bidder. While linked to Kyrie Irving for much of the past few weeks, the Suns won’t be afraid to shop players like Tyson Chandler or Eric Bledsoe around elsewhere if it means they can improve their standing as a franchise.

Kyler notes that the Hawks, fresh off of a summer that saw them part ways with Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard, could be in the market to deal. The club, he says, is in full-rebuild mode now after a year of half measures.

The Nuggets, Bulls and Lakers, Kyler says, could also be sellers over the course of the 2017/18 campaign.

There’s more from around the league.

  • Former NBA big man Jeff Ayres has signed a contract to play with Eskisehir Basket in Turkey, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports.
  • An ESPN Insider report penned by Kevin Pelton zeroes in on the league’s most recent transactions, suggesting that the Knicks‘ move to land Michael Beasley could reflect that the organization is bracing for a future without Carmelo Anthony.
  • The Superteam Era has hurt the chances small market teams have to compete and there’s no sign that it will end any time soon, Chris Mannix of The Vertical writes. So long as players are willing to forego max money in order to sign with other stars, there’s little the league can do to curb it.

Lakers Sign V.J. Beachem

AUGUST 11: The Lakers have officially signed Beachem, the team announced today in a press release.

AUGUST 9: The Lakers continue to fill out their roster for training camp, reaching an agreement with undrafted free agent V.J. Beachem, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Wojnarowski reports that Beachem will sign a partially guaranteed contract with L.A.

Beachem, a 6’8″ forward who played his college ball at Notre Dame, averaged 14.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 1.1 BPG in his senior year last season. He also made 2.4 three-pointers per game, though his .361 3PT% in 2016/17 was down from his career rate of .413 in his first three college seasons.

Shortly after the 2017 draft concluded, a report indicated that Beachem would be signing with the Timberwolves. However, that agreement only applied to Summer League play. Beachem appeared in four games for the Wolves last month in Las Vegas, averaging just 9.5 minutes per contest.

Beachem is the fourth young player to join the Lakers on a partially guaranteed contract within the last week. The Lakers signed Vander Blue on Friday and have since agreed to terms with Briante Weber and Stephen Zimmerman.

Taking into account their three unofficial NBA deals, the Lakers will have 18 players on NBA contracts, along with one player on a two-way contract. After finalizing the signings of Weber, Zimmerman, and Beachem, the Lakers will have one roster spot still available for a camp invitee or two-way player.

Poll: Which Pacific Team Had Best Offseason?

It almost seems unfair that a team with a 67-15 record in the regular season and a 16-1 postseason mark could subsequently have one of the NBA’s offseasons too, but Golden State may have achieved that feat.

Heading into the summer, the Warriors knew Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant would be back, but none of the team’s other free agents were a lock to return. When the dust settled, the Dubs had re-signed virtually all their notable FAs, including Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, David West, and JaVale McGee. The team even fortified its bench by adding Nick Young and Omri Casspi in free agency, and Jordan Bell in the draft.

While Golden State’s summer moves were impressive, some of their division rivals had very strong summers too. The Lakers, led by a new-look front office, drafted a potential franchise point guard in Lonzo Ball, dumped Timofey Mozgov‘s mega-contract, and improbably landed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in free agency.

Meanwhile, the Kings – like the Lakers – certainly won’t challenge Golden State for Pacific supremacy right away, but Sacramento’s offseason’s moves featured an impressive mix of roster additions. Not only did the Kings sign a few veterans – George Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter – but the team also added several youngsters with big upside, including De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, and Frank Mason.

The Clippers suffered the biggest single-player loss of any Pacific team as Chris Paul headed to Houston, but L.A. recovered nicely to retool its roster. Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and multiple young big men arrived in the CP3 trade, and the Clips managed to add potential starters like Danilo Gallinari and Euroleague star Milos Teodosic in free agency. The team also re-signed Blake Griffin when many NBA observers expected him to explore other options.

One of those teams that may have been eyeing Griffin was the Suns, but Phoenix ultimately opted to lay low and be patient with its rebuild rather than pursuing a top free agent. That made for a quiet summer, but it’s probably the right long-term move, and it’s not as if the Suns were totally inactive. The club landed one of the top players on its draft board in Josh Jackson and re-signed free agent big man Alan Williams to a team-friendly three-year deal.

What do you think? Which Pacific team has had the best offseason so far? Weigh in below with your vote and then jump into the comment section to share your thoughts.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Previously:

Lakers Sign Stephen Zimmerman To Camp Deal

2:46pm: The Lakers’ deal with Zimmerman is now official, with the team confirming the signing in a press release.

10:53am: Free agent center Stephen Zimmerman has agreed to a deal with the Lakers, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Zimmerman will sign a partially guaranteed contract and join the Lakers for training camp.

Zimmerman, 20, was the 41st overall pick in the 2016 draft, landing with the Magic. The former UNLV big man saw limited action during his rookie season in Orlando, averaging 1.2 PPG and 1.8 RPG in 19 games (5.7 MPG) for the club. However, he had a more extensive role in 21 games for the Erie BayHawks, averaging 13.4 PPG and 8.9 RPG in the G League.

The Magic’s contract agreement with Zimmerman included just one guaranteed season, with a non-guaranteed salary for year two. Faced last month with a deadline to make a decision on his 2017/18 salary, Orlando’s new management group opted to move on from Zimmerman, waiving him and making him a free agent.

Zimmerman is the third young player who has recently agreed to sign a camp deal with the Lakers. The team also added Vander Blue last week and struck an agreement with Briante Weber on Tuesday.

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