- Bill Oram of The Orange County Register spoke to several of Rob Pelinka‘s former clients and contacts around the NBA to get a sense of what sort of job Pelinka will do in his new role as the Lakers‘ general manager.
- Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com also indirectly takes a closer look at the Lakers‘ front office by going in-depth on the Spurs. As Holmes outlines, the Lakers would be wise to follow in the footsteps of the NBA’s most successful, stable, and well-run organization of the last two decades.
- The Lakers, Sixers and Nuggets could all make a play for Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry this summer. The veteran playmaker will be due for a significant pay raise after establishing himself as an All-Star and a core component of a winning basketball club. Lowry considered the Lakers in 2014, Deveney writes, and could be partial to returning to his hometown of Philadelphia as well.
FEBRUARY 28: The Lakers have officially signed Nwaba to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. The team now has a full 15-man roster.
FEBRUARY 27: The Lakers will sign David Nwaba to a 10-day contract, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical. Nwaba is a 6’4″ swingman who’s been playing for Los Angeles’ D-League affiliate. The franchise entered the day with an open roster spot, as the team’s depth chart at Roster Resource indicates, so no corresponding move will be necessary.
In 38 games with the D-Fenders this season, Nwaba is averaging 13.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists per contest. He’s shooting 64.3% from the field, but just 26.7% from behind the arc. Nwaba’s calling card is his defense. He’s added 1.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per game this season, but his D-League coach believes the stats don’t tell the whole story.
“David Nwaba is probably the best defender in our league,” coach Coby Karl said earlier in the season (via Harrison Faigen of SB Nation). “Defensively he really puts up a stand against guys. He’s just showing that he belongs.”
New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson addressed fans at the Staples Center on Monday night at the 13th annual Lakers All-Access event, along with co-owner and president Jeanie Buss. As Baxter Holmes and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com detail, Johnson and Buss addressed a handful of topics, including the team’s recent front office changes, the impact of the Collective Bargaining Agreement on the team, and the Lakers’ pre-trade-deadline discussions with Larry Bird and the Pacers.
ESPN’s round-up includes a number of comments that we won’t pass along here, so be sure to check out Holmes’ and Shelburne’s transcript for more from Johnson and Buss. Here are a few of the highlights from the event:
Buss on why she didn’t shake up the Lakers’ front office sooner:
“It was probably the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. Certainly, I am a person who wants continuity, and change is difficult for anybody, but I agonized over it, thought about it and I think that’s what took so long to make the decision, is that it was so difficult. And I apologize to Lakers fans for taking that time. But it was something that had to be made in a very thoughtful way. ‘Well’, some people would say — ‘the timing is unusual because it was a couple days before the trade deadline.’ My thought was that, there really is no offseason in the NBA anymore, that you are constantly trying to plan for what’s coming up. So you have the trade deadline then you have the draft lottery, then you have the draft, then you have summer league — it’s always something. So there really is never a right time to make a change like that. But once I knew in my heart that it was the right decision, then there was really no time like the present.”
Buss on the league’s new CBA:
“There’s 30 teams in the NBA, and I really truly believe that the current CBA and the way the league is set up is that any team at any time can win a championship, and that’s what you really want as a commissioner. You want everybody to have that opportunity. But I think even with an even playing field, there’s something about playing for Lakers fans, Laker nation — no CBA can make that equal. We have the greatest fans and they can’t take those away from us with the CBA. As long as they continue to do that, I think the Lakers will have an edge and pulling from all our strengths and all our assets, which includes former players, like Magic Johnson, like Kobe Bryant — those are our strengths.”
Johnson on engaging in trade talks with longtime rival – and Pacers GM – Larry Bird:
“We only talked for about two or three minutes about the possibility of a trade, but it was more geared toward later on, not at that moment. It was just saying ‘Hi, I’m here and we’re looking forward to talking to you later on this summer.'”
Johnson on working with Lakers head coach Luke Walton:
“It’s been easy. It’s been really easy. This man is the coach of the Lakers. I’m not the coach. He’s the coach. I sit back. I just watch the game, I watch practice. His job is to coach. I may come to him and say, ‘So and so may need to work on this.’ Like I’ve done a couple times. But that’s up to him after that … But I would never interfere with him and the players that he’s coaching.”
Andrew Bogut and Jose Calderon have completed their buyouts, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter links). Per Marc Stein of ESPN, neither player can sign with a team until clearing waivers Wednesday. While Bogut is likely to join the Cavs, he will hold talks with the Spurs, Rockets, and Celtics before reaching a decision (Twitter links).
Both the Lakers and Sixers have announced the transactions via press release. Now presumed to join the Warriors, Calderon and his agent released a statement commending the Lakers’ accommodation.
“I’m very appreciative of the Lakers doing this,” Mark Bartelstein told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News. “This is something we had gone to them and talked about since Jose wasn’t playing much…I’m very appreciative of Magic [Johnson] doing this. Jose’s got a lot of basketball left in him and can play at a high level. But with the Lakers being in a rebuilding state, it didn’t make sense from a playing perspective.”
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com discussed obstacles in Bogut’s path to Cleveland, noting Houston’s interest in the Australian big man. Following their signing of Isaiah Taylor, the Rockets should have more than $3MM of cap space to offer Bogut.
Lonzo Ball’s father has clarified comments that indicated his son wouldn’t play for any team but the Lakers, according to ESPN.com. LaVar Ball said Saturday in a radio interview that he wants Lonzo to be drafted by L.A. and would discourage other teams from taking him. But he toned down those remarks in a later interview. “All I said was that my boy is going to play for the Lakers, and I’m going to speak it into existence,” LaVar Ball told ESPN Saturday night. “I want him to be a Laker, but I wasn’t saying he’s only going to play for the Lakers.” Lonzo Ball is a star guard at UCLA and is projected to be one of the first players drafted. The Lakers are currently third in our Reverse Standings, but their pick will be conveyed to the Sixers if they drop out of the top three.
There’s more today from Los Angeles:
- The Lakers needed the fresh start they got by putting Magic Johnson in charge of the organization, contends Bill Heisler of The Orange County Register. He says there is plenty of shared blame for the team’s sorry state, including deceased former owner Jerry Buss, who hired Mike D’Antoni as coach in 2013 instead of Phil Jackson; Jim Buss, who hired Mike Brown as coach; Jeanie Buss, who gave Kobe Bryant a $55MM extension for his final two seasons; and former GM Mitch Kupchak, who handed out huge free agent deals to Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng last summer.
- The Lakers are the latest team to give an opportunity to former first-round pick Tyler Ennis, writes Joey Kaufman of The Orange County Register. L.A. acquired the 22-year-old point guard Thursday in a deal with Houston, where he had only seen 6.3 minutes per night in 31 games. It marked the third time Ennis has been traded since being drafted by the Suns in 2014. “It’s too early right now,” coach Luke Walton said when asked about Ennis’ role in L.A. “We definitely want to get him out there and give him some opportunities and some chances.” Playing time may open up for Ennis if the Lakers go through with a rumored buyout with veteran point guard Jose Calderon.
- With Johnson taking over the front office and Rob Pelinka hired as the new general manager, there’s a fresh sense of urgency surrounding the organization, according to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. D’Angelo Russell described the feeling as like coming to a new team.
The Warriors are expected to sign Jose Calderon following Briante Weber‘s release, Anthony Slater of San Jose Mercury News reports (Twitter link). Coach Steve Kerr discussed the prospect of signing Calderon at Saturday’s postgame press conference.
“It’ll be a point guard,” Kerr told San Jose Mercury News. “We think we have something in place, but it’s not finalized. Got to wait until it’s official.”
Earlier today, Marc Stein of ESPN reported the Lakers’ intent to buy out Calderon’s contract. While the Rockets and Warriors emerged as early favorites to sign the 12th-year veteran, Golden State created a roster vacancy by releasing Weber. Calderon is in the final season of a four-year, $29MM contract.
Weber received two minutes of playing time in Saturday’s match-up with Brooklyn. The 24-year-old played sparingly with Golden State, scoring eight points over six games. Per Slater, the Hornets are a likely landing spot for Weber (Twitter link).
LaVar Ball, the father of top draft prospect Lonzo Ball, said today that his son will only play for the Lakers, Michael Luke of the Arizona Wildcats Sports Radio relays (Twitter link). Ball has regularly spoken to the media about his sons and multiple NBA executives have told Evan Daniels of Scout.com (Twitter link) that it’s a cause for concern.
He recently hyped up his son by saying Lonzo was better than Stephen Curry. “Steph is 6’2″, 6’3″. My boy is 6’7″. ’Zo is faster than Steph and he jumps higher,” LaVar said via The New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro. “If Steph had to guard Lonzo one-on-one, he couldn’t hold Lonzo. I can’t wait for the first game they play together in the NBA. Then, when my son beats him, then what?’’
Chad Ford of ESPN.com has the Suns selecting Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick in his latest mock draft. The Lakers currently own the third spot in our Reverse Standings, meaning if the season ended today, they would have a 31.3% chance at a top-2 draft pick.
Here’s more from Los Angeles:
- The Lakers didn’t want to trade parts of its young core for Paul George or another star player without having an infrastructure around him, a source tells Mark Medina of the Orange County Register. Medina also hears that George has interest in joining the Lakers as a free agent, which confirms an earlier report.
- New addition Corey Brewer is excited to join the Lakers and take on a role as a mentor, Medina passes along in the same piece. “The young guys are going to be good. I was happy to come,” said Brewer. “I’ll talk to them, try to help them out anyway I can. I’m going to push them and kick their butt in practice and play every day.”
- Johnson presence at the Lakers‘ facilities has changed the way some of the team’s younger players conduct themselves, Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com writes. “Everybody has to look over their shoulders once again,” D’Angelo Russell said. “It’s like coming to a new team. You try to impress the GMs and the guys in the front office with your play and off the court, the way you handle yourself. It’s just all different.”
The Lakers are exploring their buyout options with veteran guard Jose Calderon, Marc Stein of ESPN says. Both the Warriors and Rockets would emerge as the most likely suitors, he adds in a separate tweet.
In 24 games this season, Calderon has played sparingly, averaging just 3.3 points and 2.1 assists per game. Just last season the guard played a prominent role with the Knicks and the 35-year-old guard would be a cheap source of leadership and productivity off the bench for a team with eyes on the NBA title.
Calderon is in the last year of a four-year contract, owed $7.7MM in 2016/17.
As the Lakers undergo their own transition as a franchise, recently appointed general manager Rob Pelinka‘s sports agency Landmark Sports is undergoing one of its own. Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer explored what the process will entail for Pelinka, the agency in general and, most of all, all of the players who’ve suddenly seen a change in representation.
Currently Pelinka’s clients, like James Harden, have been transferred to other members of the Landmark Sports agency and Fischer wonders if pending free agents like Andre Iguodala and Dion Waiters will seek agencies with sturdier leadership.
The three representatives who’ve inherited the client list, Fischer writes, were previously responsible for salary cap analysis, public relations and marketing at the agency. The Lakers can’t formally hire Pelinka until he is officially divested from Landmark Sports.
There’s more from around the NBA:
- Just four months shy of the NBA Draft, high-profile lottery prospect Josh Jackson has been charged with misdemeanor property damage, writes college reporter Adam Zagoria. The Kansas forward is currently pegged at No. 3 on the DraftExpress mock draft.
- General managers were particularly keen to hold onto their first-round picks in this year’s draft, tweets Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. Of the five first-rounders traded this month, four were No. 22 or worse. Teams are “holding onto picks with dear life,” one general manager told him.
- Prior to the trade deadline, the Timberwolves and Suns inquired about Euroleague center Ognjen Kuzmic, writes international basketball reporter David Pick. The Belgrade star, however, has no outs in his current contract.
- Free agent Larry Sanders still doesn’t have a new home in the NBA. According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders the Cavaliers remain interested in the center but the Celtics and Lakers were not impressed with what they saw in workouts.