Fisher quote on lockout

Derek Fisher, who also serves as the president of the players’ union, told reporters in New York before the lockout began tonight: “We don’t like it either. It’s something that our owners feel like is the best way to get, I guess, what they want. We don’t agree.”

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Brown terminates contract

As expected, Shannon Brown declined to exercise the $2.4 million option on 2011-12, opting to terminate his contract with the Lakers in order to become an unrestricted free agent. General manager Mitch Kupchak said last week he didn’t believe Brown would exercise his option and remain with the team. Brown’s departure leaves an opening for a backup guard, which was why Kupchak selected guards with his first two picks in the draft last week. Darius Morris, taken 41st overall, and Andrew Goudelock, who was the 46th pick, could have a shot at making the roster next season. It’s also possible that Brown could re-sign a bigger and better deal with the Lakers, although it’s unlikely.

However, Brown can’t do much of anything until the labor disagreement between owners and the players is resolved. The owners planned to lock out the players when the current collective bargaining agreement expires at 9 tonight.

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Lockout begins at 9 tonight

It’s official, according to The Associated Press, which just reported:

Union chief Billy Hunter says owners are locking out players after failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, potentially putting the 2011-12 season in jeopardy.

Despite a three-hour meeting today, the sides could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions. The CBA was due to expire at 9 p.m. (PDT).

Hunter said the union made a “moderate” new financial proposal, but it wasn’t enough to keep the two sides at the bargaining table.

Hunter said the two sides plan to meet again in the next two to three weeks.

All league business is officially on hold, starting with the free agency period that would have opened tonight at 9 p.m., and games eventually could be lost, too. The last lockout reduced the 1998-99 season to just a 50-game schedule, the only time the NBA missed games for a work stoppage.

Here’s the league’s statement, courtesy deputy commissioner Adam Silver:

“The expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams. We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable.”

The bottom line is the owners want a hard salary cap and the players don’t.

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Lakers hire Kuester as assistant coach

John Kuester was hired as an assistant coach to new head coach Mike Brown, the Lakers announced this afternoon. Kuester and Brown worked together in Cleveland, so the hiring wasn’t much of a surprise. It figures to be the first of several hires Brown makes as he fills out his coaching staff. Chuck Person, who was an assistant to Phil Jackson the last two seasons, is believed another selection to serve with Brown. Jim Boylen, a former University of Utah coach, is another. Quin Snyder and former Italian national team coach Ettore Messina are believed to be the others in line to join the Lakers’ staff. Snyder was the director of player development with the Philadelphia 76ers last season.

Kuester coached the Detroit Pistons for the last two seasons before being fired. He barely survived a players’ mutiny at midseason. He was 57-107 in two seasons, with the Pistons missing the playoffs twice. The low point of the 2010-11 season came on Feb. 25, when seven players missed all or part of the team’s shootaround and Kuester played only the six who made it on time during a lopsided loss that night to the 76ers.

Kuester benched veteran Richard Hamilton for the better part of seven weeks and also did not play point guard Rodney Stuckey at the start and the end of the season. Kuester was fired earlier this month, after the Pistons ownership changed hands to an investment group headed by California businessman Tom Gores.

Here’s a quote from Kuester about joining Brown’s staff: “I’m extremely excited to be working with Mike Brown, as well as to have the opportunity to work with the Lakers, one of the premier organizations in the NBA.”

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Mini-camp report

Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Ater Majok, the Lakers’ second-round draft picks, joined a collection of free agents for a two-day mini-camp. Usually, they would be trying to impression general manager Mitch Kupchak and secure an invitation to the summer league next month or training camp in October or both. But with a lockout looming Friday, they were all dressed up with nowhere to go. Morris and Goudelock, a pair of athletic guards, checked each other during a scrimmage. Majok was on Morris’ team.

Kupchak, new coach Mike Brown and assistant coach Chuck Person watched from the sidelines. Matt Barnes and Derrick Caracter also were on hand to watch. Everyone is expected to get kicked out of the gym once the collective bargaining agreement ends Thursday at 9 p.m. (PDT) and the lockout begins. It felt a little like the last day of school, knowing that it could be a good long while before the labor issues are resolved. Many reporters said, “OK, see you next year,” when they left the facility.

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Lakers take L.A. native Morris

The Lakers used the first of their four second-round picks (No. 41 overall) to take Darius Morris, a 6-foot-3 point guard from the University of Michigan who was born in Los Angeles and went to Windward High School. He averaged 15 points, four rebounds and 6.7 assists last season as a sophomore with the Wolverines. He’s not known as a great perimeter shooter, or even a good one, but he’s a fine defender and ballhandler. He shot 48.9 percent overall, but only 25 percent on 3-pointers. He was on the All-Big Ten third team.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d get drafted by the Lakers,” he said. “I always dreamed of playing in the NBA, but this is great, really a dream come true.”

With the 46th pick, the Lakers selected Andrew Goudelock, a 6-3 guard from the College of Charleston (S.C.). He averaged team-leading totals of 23.7 points and 4.2 assists last season as a senior. He was the Southern Conference player of the year last season.

“I’ve got a little junk in my game,” he said of his offensive skills. “I’m not bashful about my game. I can do a lot of things. I’m not afraid to try a lot of different things.”

The Lakers also picked forwards Chukwudiebere Maduabum of Nigeria (No. 56 overall) by way of the Bakersfield Jam of the developmental league and Atar Majok (No. 58) of the Sudan by way of the Australian pro league.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak then traded Maduabum to the Denver Nuggets for a future second round pick.

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Kupchak shoots down Odom trade rumors

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had this to say a few minutes ago when asked to separate truth from rumor when it came to published reports that the team was willing to deal sixth man Lamar Odom to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the second overall pick or to the Philadelphia 76ers for Andre Iguodala:

“I think other teams have been exploring major moves with us. I’m not exactly sure where it all came from, but prior to our exit from the playoffs a prominent member of the media (Magic Johnson) suggested we blow up the team and so I think that created an avalanche of expectations with other teams that we were looking to do things and I think we’ve been pretty consistent over the last month or so that it’s not our goal right now to look to break up this team. Certainly, we’ll explore opportunities, but we’re not out there dialing 27 or 28 other teams, (asking), ‘What would you do for these players?’

“That’s not what we’re doing. A lot of stuff you’ve read in the last two days, unfortunately, is agent driven. Nowadays, agents think a good way to consummate a trade would be to suggest publicly ideas that they come up with, and I think that’s part of the problem as well. What I would say is that based on the rumors we’ve heard the last week or so, I don’t anticipate any of those things happening today, tomorrow or the next day.”

Rob Pelinka is Iguodala’s agent, by the way.

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Ron Artest = World Peace

Ron Artest, that wild and crazy guy, has filed a petition in L.A. County Superior Court to change his name to Metta World Peace, with the idea of putting his new last name on the back of his Lakers jersey. Can you see it: “Peace.” By the way, metta means loving, kindness, happiness. TMZ first reported the proposed name change.

Lakers spokesman John Black said “absolutely none,” when asked for his reaction.

Then he laughed.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak chuckled when asked about Artest’s plans and said, “It brought a smile to my face. It’s been done before (with Lloyd Free changing his name to World B. Free). But other than that, I don’t have a comment.”

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Odom on the move? (Updated)

UPDATE: Here’s what the Philadelphia Daily News is reporting this morning: A league source says there is nothing to the rumors of a possible Sixers trade with the Lakers. Rumors abound that the Sixers are talking with the Lakers about trading Andre Iguodala to Los Angeles for Lamar Odom and Ron Artest. “Nothing has been discussed,” the NBA source said. “There’s nothing there.”

Two reports Wednesday indicated the Lakers are shopping versatile forward Lamar Odom. Sports Illustrated’s Web site has the Lakers talking with the Philadelphia 76ers about a possible trade that would send Odom, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year last season, to Philly for Andre Iguodala. The Lakers are said to be willing to include Ron Artest in the deal in order to satisfy the league’s salary cap rules. Also, the L.A. Times reported the Minnesota Timberwolves turned down the Lakers’ offer of Odom for the No. 2 overall pick. The Lakers backed away when the T-Wolves demanded Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum instead. There’s zero chance the Lakers will part with Gasol or Bynum.

I’m not sure what the Lakers would gain by adding Iguodala and losing Odom and Artest in a trade. No question, Iguodala is athletic and long, but he lacks the versatility of Odom. Artest can still play lockdown defense, although he had a poor second season after signing with the Lakers in the summer of 2009. The Lakers couldn’t possibly play Iguodala with Bynum and Gasol, could they? They need a better outside shooter.

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Barnes exercises option for 2011-12

Matt Barnes promised last month he would exercise his $1.9 million option for 2011-12 and remain with the Lakers, and he and the team made it official today. Barnes, a backup small forward, averaged 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 19.2 minutes over 53 games after signing as a free agent last July 22. He was just starting to make an impact when he injured his right knee and had to undergo surgery at midseason. He sat out 28 games. it will be interesting to see how he fares in coach Mike Brown’s new offense. Barnes was the only Lakers player to attend Brown’s introductory press conference last month.

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