Los Angeles Lakers

And-Ones: All-NBA Teams, Hayward, Kobe

The All-NBA teams were scheduled to be announced during the league’s inaugural award show on June 26th. However, because the selections may impact teams’ offseason plans, the league will unveil the winners in the weeks leading up to the draft, as Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post writes.

The newly created Designated Player Exception drove the change. Being selected on an All-NBA is a criterion for the massive extension and players such as Paul George and Gordon Hayward will be eligible for as much as $70MM more in an extension should they make one of the three teams.

The early unveiling arguably helps the Pacers the most. If PG13 lands on one of the teams, Indiana will have the inside track to signing him long-term as soon as this summer. If he doesn’t earn one of the spots, the organization can begin to seriously consider whether or not it should deal the small forward. George has long been linked to the Lakers and the Pacers may look to deal him rather than see him leave for L.A. without receiving any compensation in return.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Several NBA executives told Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News that they would choose Hayward over George if both were available to sign with their team. None of the executives said Hayward was the superior player based on talent alone, though they chose the Jazz star because he doesn’t come with the baggage that George comes with.
  • Kobe Bryant doesn’t miss playing the game of basketball, as he discussed on recent episode of Good Morning America (h/t James Dator of SB Nation). “No, I don’t,” Bryant said about missing the sport. “No, it’s crazy but I started playing when I was 2, and so after playing for 20 years in the league — what I have now is, everything I’ve learned from the game I carry with me to this day. So, the game’s never truly left me.”
  • Team USA announced who will be on the committees for the country’s men’s and women’s teams. Jerry Colangelo will continue to be the managing director of the Men’s National Team, while director Carol Callan will head the Woman’s National Team. Each committee will have an athlete representative. Shane Battier will serve as the men’s representative and Katie Smith will be the woman’s representative.

Lakers Notes: Johnson, Zubac, George

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss discussed the team’s roster with Magic Johnson prior to handing him the team president role. At the time, Johnson told her that he didn’t see a star on the roster, as she told Jesse Williams on the Open Run Podcast (h/t Anthony Irwin of SB Nation).

“I asked him who he would build the team around,” Buss said. “He thought about it for a second and he said, ‘I don’t know if you have the player yet… I would build the team around Luke.’”

Johnson joined Los Angeles’ front office back in February. Here’s more on his team:

  • GM Rob Pelinka said that one of the Lakers‘ priorities this offseason will be to add a center who fits into today’s NBA, Serena Winters of Lakers Nation relays (Twitter links). Pelinka added that he views Ivica Zubac as “someone [the team] considers to be one of the pillars of the future.”
  • Pelinka said character will be a major factor when evaluating possible additions this summer, Winters passes along on Twitter“I think going forward we’re going to really put a lot of weight into the character of a player,” the GM said. “What kind of person is he?”
  • Johnson will represent Los Angeles at next month’s lottery drawing, according to Mike Trudell of NBA.com. The Lakers have a 46.9% chance at landing a top-3 pick, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors details. They will owe the Sixers their first-round pick should it fall outside the top-3.
  • It’s well known that Johnson is a fan of Paul George and the Lakers may pursue the small-forward either this summer or next. George reportedly hasn’t been quiet about his interest in the team.

Latest On Paul George And The Lakers

Paul George has been talking about playing for the Lakers for years, an anonymous former teammate tells Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News. The small forward never made his desire to play for Los Angeles a secret within the team’s locker room, according to George’s former Pacers teammate.

Lakers team president Magic Johnson will likely pursue George and look to build a title contender around him, sources tell Lawrence. Johnson alluded to such plans during a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Lawrence acknowledges that George is a tremendous talent but hears that his leadership ability is being questioned around the league. Rival teams noticed how George handled himself in the media following the team’s Game 1 loss where C.J. Miles took the last shot instead of passing it to George. “C.J. took it upon himself,” George said following the game. “I’m confident in all my guys taking shots, that’s not the issue. But in that situation like that, I’ve gotta get that.”

A star should want the ball at the end of the game, but taking issue with teammates through the media is not the way top players should lead. “He’s not a winner by saying that [stuff] in public,” one GM told Lawrence. “That’s no way to support a teammate, but that’s how Paul rolls.”

Those comments after Game 1, along with George’s statements about Lance Stephenson‘s body language, have irritated members of the Pacers organization, particularly coach Nate McMillan and team president Larry Bird.

Several NBA executives are under the belief that George’s unhappiness and public blaming of teammates is a result of the Pacers not surrounding him with the right pieces.  Lawrence believes the Lakers need to surround George with “strong-willed” veterans should they trade for him this year or sign him next summer. One GM told Lawrence that the Celtics would be a much better fit than the Lakers because of Boston’s personnel.

Lawrence speculates that the team could part with D’Angelo Russell and/or Julius Randle in a hypothetical trade for George. The scribe adds that Brandon Ingram may not be on the table due to his high ceiling.

George said publicly that he hasn’t yet made a decision on his future with Indiana. “I ain’t even at that point, yet,” George said. He can become a free agent next summer by turning down a player option, which is worth approximately $20.7MM.

Lakers Targeting George Would Be A Mistake

The Lakers would be making a terrible mistake by targeting Pacers forward Paul George as their much needed superstar, Mitch Lawrence of the Sporting News writes.

George, the “anti-Magic,” has shown poor leadership and a tendency to alienate teammates, Lawrence says. Those aren’t characteristics typically paired with a young team like the Lakers.

In the same piece, Lawrence goes on to add that a better fit for George may be Boston because the Celtics, unlike the Lakers, boast the strong-willed vets to withstand George’s occasional negativity.

Should the Lakers continue to pursue the swingman, however, they’ll need ensure that their point guard is mentally strong enough to deal with the vocal superstar.

  • Could a candid conversation on Jimmy Kimmel be considered tampering? USA Today’s Alysha Tsuji wrote about how Lakers executive Magic Johnson may have tampered while commenting specifically about not tampering.

Mike D’Antoni Talks Lakers’ Failures, Rockets’ Success

Mike D’Antoni knew he wanted to coach again following his departure from the Lakers, but he was simply waiting for the right spot, as he tells Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. D’Antoni found success with the Rockets this season, but he admits that prior to arriving in Houston, he had concerns about the fit.

“I knew that they liked to play the way that I liked to play. I didn’t know [James Harden], and I didn’t know the other guys on the team,” the coach said. “So, there was always that moment of, will this fit? Will this work? Will James accept being point guard? Will [Patrick Beverley] accept being the 2-guard instead of the 1-guard? Will [Eric Gordon] accept coming off the bench? That’s where you run into problems with coaching. But when everybody said “yeah, this is great,” and then we started off pretty quick, that was an easier sell. Then, management, ownership, they all want the same thing. Then it’s that your star player wants the same thing, then now it becomes just coaching and doing what you do.”

“That’s where you run into problems with coaching. But when everybody said “yeah, this is great,” and then we started off pretty quick, that was an easier sell. Then, management, ownership, they all want the same thing. Then it’s that your star player wants the same thing, then now it becomes just coaching and doing what you do.”

Here’s more from Shelburne’s piece:

  • D’Antoni was never able to win a playoff series with the Lakers and he blames the team’s injuries as well as his player’s unwillingness to buy into his system. “There were just injuries, and people were pretty stubborn in their roles, and it’s like ‘sorry guys, this is not me. It’s not going to work right here,'” D’Antoni said of his time in Los Angeles. “So, things happen, and you coach, you learn, you go on and you hope for a better situation.”
  • D’Antoni applauds Harden’s determination to win, something that propelled the guard to consider switching positions. “I would have never got the job if his reaction was ‘No, I’m not playing point.’ So, let’s not kid ourselves. He was open to it, and it took a little, just showing him film and talking about it. James is willing to try anything to win.”
  • Harden was always meant to play the point guard position and his prior coaches weren’t using him correctly, according to D’Antoni. “He was spending a lot of time off the ball, and he was spending a lot of energy trying to get the ball. It’s like, why go through all that? Just give it to him,” D’Antoni said.
  • D’Antoni believes most Coach of the Year winners receive the award because they’ve overachieved and that sometimes comes with consequences. “That’s why most Coach of the Years get fired the next year. You overperform, then you come back to normal and they fire you,” D’Antoni said. You can check out Hoops Rumors’ picks for the COY award here.

Lakers Notes: Clarkson, Black, West

Fresh off of his third season in the NBA, Lakers combo guard Jordan Clarkson is familiar with a fluctuating role. According to Mark Medina of Inside the Lakers, that isn’t expected to change after his exit meeting.

The 24-year-old told Medina that he doesn’t know whether he’ll start, come off the bench, play the point or handle duties at the two-guard position. Much of that, naturally, will be determined after the draft and free agent signing period.

In 2016/17, Clarkson thrived in uncertainty, nearly matching his career high in scoring despite playing less minutes than he did when he initially set the mark.

While much of L.A.’s core revolves around players like D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle, the 2014 second-round pick averaged an impressive 14.7 points while playing in all 82 games for the Lakers.

There’s more from the Lakers today:

  • Despite an apparent willingness to accept a consultant role with the Lakers, Jerry West won’t be offered one, Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register writes, citing a team insider.
  • Third-year forward Tarik Black is confident he’ll be back with the Lakers next season, Mark Medina writes for Inside the Lakers. Although there’s no guarantee when it comes to his… non-guaranteed contract. “If they weren’t interested in bringing me back, they would’ve just said, ‘Well, it’s nice having you Tarik, we enjoyed you, we’ll be in touch,” Black said. “The fact they’re sitting there, having the conversation and listening to my questions and they seriously answered them and we talked about development, it just gives me confidence moving forward.
  • The Lakers wrapped up their exit meetings last week, writes the Orange County Register’s Mark Medina, and one item that was stressed consistently was better conditioning. The club appears otherwise optimistic looking forward.
  • After two years with the Lakers, 37-year-old Metta World Peace has tweeted goodbye to the franchise, E. Carchia of Sportando relays.

Lakers Notes: Draft Pick, Walton, Ingram, Robinson

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka says the organization has a plan in place whether it gets to keep its first-round pick or not, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com. The Lakers will learn their fate at the May 16th lottery, where they need the pick to fall within the top three to prevent it from being sent to Philadelphia. At 26-56, L.A. had the third-worst record in the league, which gives the franchise a 47% chance of keeping the selection. “If we get the lottery balls to bounce our way, yes, we have a great attack plan for the draft,” Pelinka said. “But if we don’t, just like [many famous] sports moments, we have to find a way, and we do have a plan, to still get to where our ultimate destination is without the draft pick.”

There’s more Lakers news out of Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers would like to add talent this summer without disrupting the young group of players they have in place, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Now that the season is over, coach Luke Walton plans to join Pelinka and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson to develop a strategy for the future. “They both believe in the young core we have. They believe with time we’ll be able to get it done,” Walton said, “But at the same time, they’ll be looking for different ways to make the team more successful sooner rather than later. It’s kind of a fine line in balancing all of that.”
  • Pelinka and Johnson have told rookie Brandon Ingram to work out with Kobe Bryant this summer, Medina relays in a separate piece. They also want the 6’9″, 190-pounder to add muscle over the offseason, but the organization believes Ingram could benefit most from being exposed to Bryant’s mental approach. “He had a curiosity for the game,” said Pelinka, who was Bryant’s former agent. “I think for a young player like Brandon to tap into the highest level of obsession with excellence and learn what that means is critical.”
  • Another summer of uncertainty awaits free agent Thomas Robinson, but he was happy with what he heard during Thursday’s exit interview, Medina notes in another story. Robinson averaged 5.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per night in 48 games after earning a roster spot in training camp. “They were impressed with the way I handled myself this year,” Robinson said of the meeting with Pelinka, Johnson and Walton. “They’re happy with that part with who I am as a person and as a player. I take that as a good thing. Hopefully it turns into me coming back as a Laker.” He added that there was no commitment from the team about bringing him back next season. The No. 5 pick in the 2012 draft, Robinson has been with six organizations during his five NBA seasons.

Lakers Rumors: Young, World Peace, Kobe, Mozgov

Now that the Lakers have played their final regular season game of 2016/17, the first offseason in Rob Pelinka‘s tenure as general manager is underway. As Pelinka said earlier this week to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, it will be an interesting one in Los Angeles, since there are so many uncertainties surrounding the club, starting with whether or not it will keep its top-three-protected pick.

“There are a lot of uncertainties,” Pelinka said. “Do we have our draft pick in June, or do we not? What free agents do extensions? What free agents become true free agents? What players from other teams are teams going to think about trading? There are millions and millions of combinations. It’s almost like a Rubik’s Cube. If you’re trying to solve it, there are many different combinations and turns you could make to get to the end path. You have to really study that board hard and make all the right turns to get there, but there is likely more than one way to get to the end.”

As the Lakers mull their summer options, let’s round up a few more notes on the club…

  • Although Nick Young remains undecided on his player option, he suggested today that he may prefer joining a playoff team rather than being one of the lone veterans on a young team, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. As Mark Medina of Los Angeles Daily News tweets, Young also joked that if the Lakers end up drafting Lonzo Ball, it might be too much for the team to have to deal with the “Ball family and Swaggy P talking crazy.”
  • Speaking today to reporters, including Pincus (Twitter link), Metta World Peace said president of basketball operations Magic Johnson told him the Lakers probably won’t re-sign him this summer. World Peace said earlier this week that he hopes to play two more professional seasons, but he sounded less certain today about his plans going forward.
  • After initially taking an inside look last month at the legal drama surrounding Jeanie Buss and her family, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com digs back into the story and updates her initial report with new information and quotes from Buss. Shelburne’s newest story on Lakers ownership includes a handful of interesting new tidbits, including one on how Jim Buss tried to offer Kobe Bryant shares in the franchise last year without realizing that the family trust didn’t allow for such a move.
  • After being rested for several weeks to end the season, Timofey Mozgov isn’t yet sure what his role will look like next year, but he’s hopeful that he’ll start 2017/18 as L.A.’s starting center, per Medina.

2017 NBA Draft Lottery Odds

With the NBA’s 2016/17 regular season now in the books, the odds for this year’s draft lottery have been set. With the help of our Reverse Standings, as well as information from LotteryBucket.com, here is the 2017 lottery order, along with each team’s chances of landing a top pick:

  1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets)
    • No. 1: 25.0%
    • Top-3: 64.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 4
    • Note: Celtics acquire pick due to ability to swap first-round picks with Nets.
  2. Phoenix Suns
    • No. 1: 19.9%
    • Top-3: 55.8%
    • Lowest pick: No. 5
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
    • No. 1: 15.6%
    • Top-3: 46.9%
    • Lowest pick: No. 6
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Sixers if not in top 3 (odds: 53.1%).
  4. Philadelphia 76ers
    • No. 1: 14.7%
    • Top-3: 45.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 7
    • Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, so their No. 1 and top-3 odds are a little higher than they otherwise would be. No. 1 and top-3 odds for Sixers’ own pick are 11.9% and 37.8%, respectively.
  5. Orlando Magic
    • No. 1: 8.8%
    • Top-3: 29.12%
    • Lowest pick: No. 8
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • Top-3: 18.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 9
    • Note: Timberwolves won tiebreaker with Knicks.
  7. New York Knicks
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • Top-3: 18.2%
    • Lowest pick: No. 10
    • Note: Knicks lost tiebreaker with Timberwolves.
  8. Sacramento Kings
    • No. 1: N/A
    • Top-3: 2.5%
    • Lowest pick: No. 11
    • Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, rendering No. 1 pick impossible and greatly reducing odds of top-3 pick.
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Bulls if not in top 10 (odds: 0.01%).
  9. Dallas Mavericks
    • No. 1: 1.7%
    • Top-3: 6.1%
    • Lowest pick: No. 12
  10. New Orleans Pelicans
    • No. 1: 1.1%
    • Top-3: 4.0%
    • Lowest pick: No. 13
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Kings if not in top 3 (odds: 96.0%).
  11. Charlotte Hornets
    • No. 1: 0.8%
    • Top-3: 2.9%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  12. Detroit Pistons
    • No. 1: 0.7%
    • Top-3: 2.5%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  13. Denver Nuggets
    • No. 1: 0.6%
    • Top-3: 2.2%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  14. Miami Heat
    • No. 1: 0.5%
    • Top-3: 1.8%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14

Draft Notes: Fultz, Ball, Hutchison, 2018

The Knicks currently have the sixth-best odds in the NBA draft lottery, which would give them a modest 6.3% chance to land the first overall pick. Despite those fairly long odds, potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz has considered the possibility of playing for New York, and was in attendance on Sunday at Madison Square Garden to take a first-hand look at the team and its triangle system.

As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News details, Fultz said it would be “amazing” to be drafted by the Knicks, and didn’t express any reservations about the triangle.

I think I could play in any system,” Fultz said. “I’m very versatile, so it was cool to see that. It’s a lot of openings and stuff like that, so that’s why I came to see that in person.”

Let’s round up a few more draft-related items…

  • Former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball is the biggest threat to Fultz for that No. 1 pick, but if he had to choose between being drafted first overall and being selected by the Lakers, Ball would opt for the Lakers, he recently told ESPN (video link). Ball also made the case for why clubs should draft him over Fultz, suggesting that he’s more capable of leading a team than the Washington point guard is.
  • Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison will enter his name in the 2017 NBA draft pool, but won’t hire an agent, according to an announcement from the school. “Our coaches have informed me that NBA teams are expressing interest, and I feel that I need to take advantage of the opportunity to be evaluated and find out where I truly stand,” Hutchison said in a statement. The junior shooting guard, who isn’t considered a top prospect by DraftExpress or ESPN, will have until May 24 to decide whether to withdraw his name and return to Boise State.
  • Much has been made of the strength of the 2017 draft class, but as Chad Ford of ESPN.com writes in an Insider-only piece, the 2018 class projects to have several elite prospects at the top too. However, it won’t be as deep as 2017’s class. “[The 2017] class was one of the most talented and deepest I’ve ever seen,” one NBA GM said. “[For 2018], I love three or four guys and that’s about it.” Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri), Luka Doncic (Real Madrid), and DeAndre Ayton (Arizona) are the three players at the top of Ford’s 2018 board.
  • Former Green Bay power forward Kerem Kanter, who was said to be testing the draft process before potentially graduating and transferring, has committed to Xavier, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. As such, the brother of Enes Kanter figures to postpone his pro career for another year.
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