Assistant coach Quin Snyder leaving Lakers for CSKA Moscow

Quin Snyder has decided to leave Mike Brown’s staff with the Lakers to join Ettore Messina with CSKA Moscow as an assistant coach next season, a league source said Monday. Snyder and Messina spent last season together with the Lakers, after Brown was hired to replace the retired Phil Jackson in May 2011.

Messina opted to return to Moscow, where he coached from 2005 to ’09. Snyder was mentioned as a candidate for NBA head coaching vacancies in Charlotte and Orlando.

Their departures leave two openings on Brown’s staff.

Chuck Person, the lone holdover from Jackson’s staff, will coach the Lakers’ summer-league team, which begins play Friday in Las Vegas. Person and follow assistants John Kuester and Darvin Ham are expected to return to the Lakers next season.

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Kobe Bryant says he’s ‘very excited’ about playing with Steve Nash

Kobe Bryant said Friday afternoon he was looking forward to playing with newly-acquired point guard Steve Nash next season and spoke about what the two-time NBA MVP can do for the Lakers’ offense, which bogged down spectacularly at times last season.

Bryant also said during an ESPN interview he hoped Dwight Howard would do what’s best for him as he attempts to get the Orlando Magic to trade him to another team, including possibly the Lakers.

Bryant spoke from Las Vegas where he began workouts with the U.S. Olympic team.

Of playing with Nash, Bryant said:

“I’m very excited. We all know what a phenomenal player he is and how intelligent he is and what he brings to the table with his shooting and playmaking ability. I’m excited. I think the fact we came into the league together in ’96.

“There’s not too many players still going, competing at a high level. You have myself, Nash, Ray Allen, Marcus (Camby) is still competing as well. There’s not many of us left. That bond we’ve had since the ’96 draft kind of supercedes the rivalry we had against Phoenix. …

“He’s going to space the floor. He’s such a phenomenal shooter and then his ability to make plays for others is second to none, really. So we’ll be able to get up and down the floor and, hopefully, get more easy baskets than we have in the past. We won’t have to grind as much as we did in the past in terms of getting good shots in the half court.”

Asked if he wants the Lakers to acquire Howard, Bryant said:

“I want what’s best for him. We’ve kind of established a relationship, with all the guys during the ’08 Olympic team. I want him to do what he feels is best for him and what’s going to make him happy and, hopefully, bring him a great amount of success, individual as well as winning championships.”

Of the lack of size on Team USA because of injuries to Howard and Chris Bosh, Bryant said:

“The teams we will be facing all have a great amount of size. They know how to use their size. They’re very physical. They’re strong in the paint. We’re missing a lot by not having Dwight, not having Chris (Bosh, who also is hurt), not having Lamar (Odom, who declined an invitation to attend training camp).”

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Steve Nash says he’s looking forward to meshing with Kobe Bryant and the rest of his new Lakers teammates

Steve Nash said Thursday morning he was surprised to be the Lakers’ new point guard, but calls from Kobe Bryant, coach Mike Brown and general manager Mitch Kupchak convinced him L.A. was the place for him. In his first interview since Wednesday’s trade, Nash told KSPN 710-AM in Los Angeles that he was looking forward to teaming with Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum and trying to win his first NBA championship.

Of talking to Bryant earlier in the week, Nash said:

“For me, it was important to speak to him just to make sure he was completely on board. He could kind of visualize this as being an effective fit and being excited about. So, I spoke to him. I spoke to coach Brown. They were excited. Kobe was excited and explained to me how he thought it would help and why it would be great. …

“Well, I think (Bryant’s pitch was), for one, somebody to handle the ball and lead. He also felt that we were complementary because I’m more of the positive side. He’s more, as he said it, more of a crack-the-whip. I think pick-and-roll, and at that to the offense, and being able to space the floor for the big guys inside …

“I think it’s a good fit. He was excited, and I think that was important for me. And coach Brown the same, so it’s going to be fun to try to work it all out and try to create some cohesion and chemistry on the floor and make all these pieces work. …

“Kobe is still one of the all-time great players in the game. So, I hope he does have the ball in his hands a lot. At the same time, it’ll take pressure off him if someone else handles the ball and get him the ball in spots and maybe get him a few more easy baskets and at the same time maybe create offense for other guys, so he’s not stuck so often having to take on one or two defenders.

“Perhaps we can all make each other better because of our different skills. Maybe I can space the floor for those big guys (Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum).”

Of chasing his first championship ring, Nash said:

“Believe it or not, and I don’t want to diminish what a championship would mean to me, but believe it or not that doesn’t haunt me at all. I don’t care what other people say. I fight every day to be the best player I can be. When I played for the Suns, Mavericks and now the Lakers, I’m going to fight every day like it’s the only thing that matters.

“But when I step away from the court, that’s not going to define me. I battle. I compete. I’m a great teammate. I’m dying to win one. I want to win one for me. I want to win one for my teammates, whoever they may be. I’m going to battle every day to do so. I try not get caught up in what other people are saying when I’m long gone. …

“I know it’s so all-consuming, the championship or nothing mentality that everyone has, especially the media. It’s valid to ask and it’s valid for a lot of people to get caught up in that. I try to shed away a lot of that extra baggage. I just try to worry about training, about enjoying my training, about enjoying the opportunity to compete at a high level. I want to win. I want to win bad, but I’m not going to be haunted by the fact. … If I retired today, I wouldn’t be haunted by the fact that I never won. I gave it a heck of a shot.”

Asked what he would say to Dwight Howard in an attempt to persuade him to agree to a trade to the Lakers for Bynum, Nash said:

“(Howard is) a special player, a special talent, for sure, so I can understand why the Lakers might be recruiting him. For me, getting an opportunity to play with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, that’s amazing. It would be a pleasure to play with those two players. That’s a lot for me to think of right there. I’m not even going to speculate on what could happen with Dwight. As far as basketball goes, it would be thrilling for any point guard to play with the two big men the Lakers have. …

“As far as if I were recruiting him to the Lakers? Why don’t we wait until I sign my contract before I start recruiting players and making trades, so like I said I’m thrilled to play with players of the ability of Pau and Andrew and that’s thrilling to me.”

Of recruiting former Suns teammate Grant Hill to the Lakers, Nash said:

“I’ll do anything I can, if the Lakers are open to that, to make it a reality because he makes every team better, he makes everyone around him better and he makes any organization better. So he’s a class act and still a heck of a competitor and player.”

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Lakers to acquire point guard Steve Nash from the Suns

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said last week he hoped to hit a home run as he sought to improve the team’s roster after consecutive second-round playoff exits. He appeared to hit a tape-measure shot when he and the Phoenix Suns agreed on a deal that would send veteran point guard Steve Nash to the Lakers in a sign-and-trade swap.

The trade was first reported Wednesday afternoon by KTAR 620-AM in Phoenix.

The Lakers will send four draft picks plus about $3 million in cash in exchange for Nash. The picks will be first-round selections in 2013 and ’15 and second-round selections in 2013 and ’14. The 38-year-old Nash will make about $25 million over the next three seasons, according to a report on ESPN.com.

A Lakers spokesman did not immediately return a phone call seeking confirmation, and it wasn’t immediately certain whether an $8.9-million trade exception was included in the package of draft picks sent to the Suns.

The deal can’t be completed until July 11.

Nash joins a team that was in flux last season in Mike Brown’s first year as coach. The Lakers believed they had secured their point guard of the future when they acquired Ramon Sessions from the Cleveland Cavaliers and dealt Derek Fisher to the Houston Rockets. But Sessions opted out of his Lakers contract for next season to become a free agent. it’s unlikely the Lakers would continue their attempts to re-sign Sessions.

It was believed Nash was bound for either the Toronto Raptors or the New York Knicks or perhaps with the Dallas Mavericks to re-unite with Dirk Nowitzki. The two-time NBA most-valuable player reportedly received a three-season, $36-million offer from the Raptors. Word leaked early Wednesday that he would not take it, however.

What’s more, it’s possible veteran small forward Grant Hill, Nash’s former teammate with the Suns, could join him with the Lakers. Hill, 39, reportedly underwent the same knee procedure Kobe Bryant had last summer in Germany that allowed him to play with more explosiveness than in recent seasons.

Nash and Hill are very good friends.

It’s unclear how the Lakers acquisition of Nash would impact their interest in swapping center Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. The Lakers were said to be one of several teams interested in acquiring Howard. The Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets also are believed to be in the hunt for Howard.

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Dear Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss: trade Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard

Tomorrow’s column today …

Mitch Kupchak, general manager
Jim Buss, executive vice president
Lakers HQ
555 N. Nash Street
El Segundo, Calif.
90245

Fellas,

Do the deal. Do it now. Today. Yesterday. Whenever.

Just get it done.

Trade one knucklehead for another knucklehead.

Swap immature center Andrew Bynum for immature center Dwight Howard.

Don’t listen to the hand-ringers who say you’d be dealing one problem child for another. The air has gotten stale around here since you celebrated your last NBA championship in 2010. The fire has gone out and complacency has taken hold.

You were passed up by the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 and the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012. The Mavericks kicked you guys to the curb in the second round of the playoffs two seasons ago and the Thunder did the same thing this spring.

It’s time for a change.

You’re stuck on 16 titles, with an aging Kobe Bryant desperate to win a least one more before he calls it a career. One more would give you 17 and him six. You would finally tie the hated Boston Celtics and he would match the sainted Michael Jordan.

Mitch, you said the other day it would be difficult to imagine a day without Bryant working his magic for the Lakers. You made it sound as if you didn’t wish to think about it. Understood. Totally get how you were feeling at that moment.

The next question is, is Bynum the future of the franchise without Bryant?

I don’t think so.

Deep down, and not for publication, neither do you.

So, dump Bynum and start fresh with Howard.

Jim?

I know you’re the one who persuaded Mitch to take a chance on Bynum, drafting him 10th overall in 2005. I understand why you’ve stood by him while he’s taken baby steps to reach this point, to become a forceful player in the low post.

Look, Wilt Chamberlain got traded.

So did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

You guys dealt Shaquille O’Neal, remember?

As I see it, you’ve gone as far as you can with Bynum. He was a locker room distraction last season, a pain in the neck to his teammates, to the coaching staff and to you, too. Mike Brown had to bench him for chucking that 3-pointer against Golden State.

Mitch, you had to fine him for blowing off a meeting with you.

Bynum stopped talking to reporters before games, but he started walking around the locker room with music blaring from his headphones. He was defiant and petulant and a complete and utter pain in the butt, and not worth the trouble.

Bryant said several times last season he liked Bynum’s edgy side.

Right, and next season they’ll be at each other’s throats because Bryant won’t like Bynum’s edgy side. Time isn’t on Bryant side, and it’s not on the Lakers’ side either. And Bynum isn’t the solution, he’s the problem. He’s not going to win you titles.

So, do the deal. Trade him to the Orlando Magic for Howard. Toss small forward Metta World Peace into the deal. Take back a bad contract. Take back Jason Richardson or Hedo Turkoglu if that’s what it takes to make this thing work.

You want to save money because the new luxury tax rules that go into effect for the 2014-15 make it too difficult to splurge. You’re not alone in wanting to cut payroll now to save for the future and yet still put a contender on the Staples Center court.

But the deal you can offer Orlando is better than anyone else’s.

The Brooklyn Nets can offer Brook Lopez.

The Atlanta Hawks can offer Al Horford.

The Houston Rockets can offer, what, humidity and mosquitoes?

Pul-heze.

You’ve got the best hand at the table.

So play it.

Sure, Howard’s immaturity is on a level that might be unmatched in professional sports today. His back is jacked up and he might not be able to participate in the opening of training camp in October after undergoing surgery in April.

Trade for him anyway.

No question, it’s a risk to acquire a player who says he won’t sign a new contract with anyone but the Nets. It’s a gamble to take on a player who says he wants to make his own history somewhere else, and Brooklyn is the only place he thinks he can do it.

Do the deal anyway.

Give him the history lesson, take him in the gym and point out the retired numbers and the championship banners. Show him how the linage of centers starts with George Mikan then goes to Chamberlain and then Abdul-Jabbar and then O’Neal.

Don’t have anything like that in Brooklyn, do they?

Besides, Howard has been in Los Angeles since having surgery.

He’s not in Brooklyn.

He’s already part of the landscape.

Trade for him and lock him up long term.

Bryant and Brown will teach him the ways of the purple and gold.

Do it.

Respectfully,

Elliott

P.S. Do it now before it’s too late and you regret it for the rest of your lives.

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Darius Morris accepts qualifying offer to stay with Lakers

Darius Morris, a backup point guard who played only limited minutes as a rookie last season, agreed Monday to accept a qualifying offer of $962,000 from the Lakers for next season. Morris played only 19 games and averaged only 2.4 points, 0.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 8.9 minutes last season.

The Lakers expect him to join their summer-league team, which begins play July 13 in Las Vegas. Morris was one of a number of young players who were hurt by the lockout and the shortened 66-game season in 2011-12. First, summer league was canceled in 2011 and then there was little time for practice once the labor impasse ended.

Morris, who played at the University of Michigan and Windward High School in Los Angeles, was a second-round pick (41st overall) in 2011.

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Is trading for Dwight Howard worth the risk for the Lakers?

The Lakers, Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets reportedly are interested in trading for center Dwight Howard, who is one disgruntled employee of the Orlando Magic. The Lakers could swap center Andrew Bynum, who was something of a headache for them despite a breakout season in 2011-12, in order to get Howard.

The question is, is Howard worth the risk for the Lakers?

For starters, Howard told Yahoo! Sports there’s only one team he wished to be traded to, and if he’s dealt elsewhere he would play out the season and become a free agent and sign with the team he wanted to play for all along. The Nets, relocating this coming season to Brooklyn from New Jersey, reportedly are that team.

“There’s only one team on my list and if I don’t get traded there, I’ll play the season out and explore my free agency after that,” Howard told Yahoo! without mentioned the team by name.

Asked about the status of his injured back, Howard wouldn’t (or couldn’t) say whether he would be fit to participate in the opening of training camp in October. He can’t play for Team USA in the London Olympics later this month after undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a disk and remove bone fragments in April.

Howard said the injury was serious and bristled when asked if he was aware of comments from outside the Orlando organization that he had quit on the Magic.

“I’ve never faked anything,” Howard said. “I’d never fake a back injury to not play for my team. I played a lot of games in a lot of pain, and there were times that I was crying in the locker room afterward because I was so seriously hurt. But I kept fighting. I’ve played with a cracked sternum in the past, and played with a lot of different (injuries). This time, I couldn’t play. Regardless of what people say, ‘Hey, you’re Superman,’ I’m a man. I bleed. And I have bones, too. And something happened that I couldn’t control.”

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Report: Lakers talking to Magic about swapping Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard

The Lakers and the Orlando Magic began preliminary talks about an Andrew Bynum-for-Dwight Howard trade, according to a report Sunday from Yahoo! Sports. Neither side has made an offer, according to the website, which cited an unnamed league source. The Lakers, Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets have spoken to the Magic about Howard, according to the story. Brooklyn is said to be Howard’s preferred destination.

The Lakers talked to the Magic about dealing for Howard before the trade deadline last March 15, but then Howard said he would pick up his contract option for next season with the Magic and all trade talk ceased. Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, has told the Magic repeatedly recently that his client now wishes to be traded.

According to Yahoo!, the Magic wouldn’t consider a deal with the Lakers without the 24-year-old Bynum heading to Florida. Bynum had a breakout season in 2011-12, averaging career bests of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. He was injury-free and made the Western Conference All-Star team for the first time in his career.

Only Howard (14.5) and Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves (13.3) averaged more rebounds last season than Bynum.

Bynum was once thought to be untouchable because Lakers executive Jim Buss, son of team owner Jerry Buss, was so enamored of the 7-footer. Bynum’s frequent displays of immature behavior rubbed coach Mike Brown and his staff, general manager Mitch Kupchak and several teammates the wrong way in 2011-12.

Brown benched Bynum after he shot an ill-advised 3-pointer during a March 27 game against the Golden State Warriors. Kupchak then fined Bynum after he skipped a scheduled meeting to discuss the situation. Bynum declined at times to join huddles during timeouts because he said he was “getting my zen on” on the bench.

Howard has issues of his own, including a season-ending back injury that forced him to withdraw from the U.S. Olympic team. Just as important, his state of mind also has been called into question over the last year. He had a difficult relationship with Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, which led to Van Gundy’s firing at season’s end.

Then there was Howard’s apparent desire to leave Orlando for Brooklyn, which was quieted when he declined to opt out of his contract for next season with the Magic and then became an issue again in recent weeks. The Magic’s firing of Van Gundy was seen as an attempt to please Howard and keep him in the fold.

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