NBA free agency: Lakers express interest in Kent Bazemore

The Lakers’ quest to facilitate their rebuilding project led them toward reaching back to their recent past.

The Lakers expressed interest on Thursday in acquiring Atlanta forward Kent Bazemore, according to league sources. But two years after Bazemore became a lost casualty of the Lakers’ heavier priority on star free agents, the Lakers will field stiff competition from other teams interested in his services.
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NBA free agency: Lakers agree to deal with Timofey Mozgov

The Lakers made one step in hopes to upgrade their center position.

They agreed to a deal with Cleveland center Timofey Mozgov, according to league sources familiar with the situation. The terms weren’t readily available, but the Vertical reported the deal is worth $65 million through four years.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak reached out to Mozgov when free agency began at 9:01 p.m. PT on Thursday. It did not take long for them to proceed from there.
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Lakers extend qualifying offer to Jordan Clarkson

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson said he wants to return to the Lakers. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson said he wants to return to the Lakers. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The move represents a mere formality that both Jordan Clarkson and the Lakers hope forges into a long-term partnership.

The Lakers extended a qualifying offer worth $2.7 million to Clarkson on Thursday. The Lakers also did the same to backup point guard Marcelo Huertas and backup center Tarik Black, with qualifying offers worth both $1.1 million.
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NBA free agency: Evan Turner interested in Lakers

Free agency will not just mark the period the Lakers hope to revamp their roster. It could also represent a period in which another saga of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry unfolds.

Boston free-agent shooting guard Evan Turner has expressed interest in about six NBA teams, including the Lakers and Celtics, according to league sources familiar with the situation.
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TWC SportsNet panel debates which centers the Lakers should pursue

The facts have become pretty clear.

The Lakers need a center after not expecting to retain Roy Hibbert. The Lakers also need someone who can both produce inside and anchor a defense that ranked near the bottom of the league last season.

So who should the Lakers target?

Should they pursue Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside because he checks all those boxes? Or should they hesitate given his relative youth and past immaturity could become a bad influence for the Lakers’ young roster?

Should the Lakers go after Atlanta forward Al Horford because of his veteran experience and offensive versatility? Or should they wonder if Horford will provide enough on defense?

As shown in the videos above and below, this all became a topic of discussion Wednesday night on Time Warner Cable’s Access SportsNet. Host Chris McGee, 710 ESPN analyst Andy Kamenetzky and I analyzed the various centers the Lakers could pursue in free agency.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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NBA free agency: NBA TV analyst Stu Jackson weighs impact Kobe Bryant’s departure will have

Free agent Kevin Durant, seen with now-retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant in January, has reportedly left the Lakers off his list of teams with whom he will meet this offseason. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Free agent Kevin Durant, seen with now-retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant in January, has reportedly left the Lakers off his list of teams with whom he will meet this offseason. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Below is a Q&A on Lakers’ with NBA TV analyst Stu Jackson, who is going to be a large part of the network’s free agency-focused programming. NBATV will have a free agency preview show on June 30 both at 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET. Then, NBA TV will air a “Free Agent Fever” episode on Friday beginning at 8 a.m. followed by updates throughout the morning and live studio coverage from 2-11:30 p.m. Free agent coverage will continue on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET as well as NBA GameTime Shows on Saturday and Sunday at 11 p.m. ET.

Jackson: “With Kobe, you lose one of the greatest players of all time. Certainly he is in that conversation. But now it’s an opportunity for the franchise to really turn the page and move on from Kobe. At the same time, Kobe will always be a Laker and could be an asset in helping with rebuilding the franchise. I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to help. But right now I look at the Lakers as having a clean canvas. They have a top draft pick. They can open up a lot of cap space to acquire free agents or accept in trade. They have a pretty good foundation of young players in D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson in which to build around. If you’re looking to pitch, that’s the pitch. For the Lakers, for them to build the franchise the way they want, it’ll take getting that one free agent to pull the trigger and want to make the Lakers the great franchise it once was.”
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NBA Draft: Mitch Kupchak says “we have more to sell” in free agency

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak plans to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina soon. (Robert Casillas - Staff Photographer)

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak plans to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina soon. (Robert Casillas – Staff Photographer)

The Lakers’ 16 NBA championship trophies, the sunny skies and proximity to Hollywood once represented the only visual selling points they needed to land their next star.

But then something happened. The Lakers missed the playoffs for the past three seasons because of rosters that both lacked health and talent. The current labor deal has imposed more stringent spending limitations. It no longer has become necessary to latch onto the Lakers’ global brand in order for a star to maximize theirs.

So, the Lakers struggled to retain their own star free agents, including Dwight Howard (2013) and Pau Gasol (2014). The Lakers also could not attract stars from other teams, including LeBron James (2014), Carmelo Anthony (2014), LaMarcus Aldridge (2015), DeAndre Jordan (2015) and Greg Monroe (2015).

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak conceded things “might not be different” when free agency begins on July 1. After all, the Lakers finished the 2016-17 season with its worst record in franchise history (17-65). Yet, Kupchak argued that the Lakers “have more to sell.”

“Our asset allotment is better,” Kupchak said. “Our circumstances are better.”
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NBA Draft: Lakers select Croatian center Ivica Zubac at No. 32

EL SEGUNDO — The Lakers selected Croatian seven-foot center Ivica Zubac with the No. 32 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Numerous NBA mock drafts have compared Zubac to Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, though it remains unclear how soon Zubac will play in the NBA. The Lakers could stash him overseas to give him more time to develop.

Zubac helped the Croatian team win the silver medal in the Under-19 World Championships, averaging 17.9 points and 7.9 rebounds. He also played last season for KK Cibona in Croatia, though he left amid reported issues with decreased playing time over a coaching change.

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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NBA Draft: Luke Walton dismisses concerns about Brandon Ingram’s weight

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

EL SEGUNDO — Even as he stayed consumed with the Golden State Warriors’ playoff run, Lakers coach Luke Walton watched enough tape of Brandon Ingram that featured plenty of images.

Walton gushed about Ingram’s length. Walton complimented Ingram’s defensive awareness. Walton praised Ingram’s leadership qualities.

But when it came toward assessing Ingram’s a rail-thin 6-9, 190-pound frame? Even if NBA talent evaluators have constantly brought up that issue, Walton insisted he “doesn’t see concerns about his weight” for one simple reason.

“He’s young; he’ll naturally get stronger,” Walton said on Thursday at the Lakers’ practice facility. “Talking to some of the coaches that were here when he came and did his workout, even though he’s skinny, he had strength to him in the individual workout that he did. That’s good to hear.”

Ingram said he has gone from weighing 169 pounds to 195 in the past year because of constant workouts and high-caloric meals. He also has said he wants to weigh 210 pounds by the beginning of the 2016-17 season. Yet those around Ingram have downplayed his weight issues, arguing that he can overcome such a weakness with superior defense and an outside shot.

“I don’t know if he’s the best or not, but he’s the player I wanted,” Walton said. “What he has the potential of doing and what he can already do at his age, with his length and his skill set, is very impressive and unique.”

RELATED:

NBA Draft: Mitch Kupchak said “nothing piqued our interest” in trading No. 2 pick

NBA Draft: Los Angeles Lakers select Brandon Ingram with No. 2 pick

NBA Draft: Brandon Ingram earns high marks for selfless work ethic

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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NBA Draft: Mitch Kupchak said “nothing piqued our interest” in trading No. 2 pick

The Lakers did not make any moves leading into Thursday's NBA draft. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

The Lakers did not make any moves leading into Thursday’s NBA draft. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

The phone rarely stopped ringing. But just because Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak fielded what he called “a lot of interest in our No. 2 pick” on Thursday, the Lakers chose the conventional route and chose Duke forward Brandon Ingram.

Part of the reasoning sounded simple.

“Obviously there was nothing that piqued our interest,” Kupchak said on Thursday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “This time of year, teams are serious. They’re recognizing that picks are valuable. Hopefully we’re not in this position again and we recognize that the pick is valuable.”

The Lakers fielded the No. 2 pick for the second consecutive year after preceding a season with their worst record in franchise history. It seemed no surprise they used it on Ingram, who won the ACC’s Freshman of the year award during his lone season at Duke partly because of his outside shooting and defense. Ingram shot 41 percent from 3-point range, while often defending the opposing team’s top scorers.

The Lakers also became impressed with Ingram’s versatility during individual workouts and two subsequent dinners. At the second dinner, Kupchak said the Lakers’ young roster in D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown attended.

“We look at him and his age (18) and his body type, his willingness to work and be coached,” Kupchak said. “We think the upside and potential in him, there is no ceiling on him. But to date, he has had a pretty good career in a pretty good conference.”

Kupchak admitted that Ingram “needs to work and get stronger” after having a listed 6’9, 190-pound frame. Yet, Kupchak argued “it’s unfair” of the comparisons Ingram fielded to Kevin Durant, a seven-time NBA All-Star that also entered the league undersized.

“Their similarities are striking in terms of size and body build and body type,” Kupchak said. “Beyond that, Brandon has a long long way to go and has a lot of work in front of him.”

Yet, the Lakers hardly thought twice about selecting Ingram. Kupchak would not go enough to proclaim Ingram as his top choice had the Lakers’ No. 1 pick. After all, the Lakers’ sentiment could have changed had LSU forward Ben Simmons worked out for them. But on a night Kupchak easily could have traded his pick away, he chose otherwise.

“We’re ecstatic to have him,” Kupchak said. “Going into it based on what we felt, we felt we’d be very lucky to get Brandon into this city and into this organization.”


RELATED:

NBA Draft: Los Angeles Lakers select Brandon Ingram with No. 2 pick

NBA Draft: Brandon Ingram earns high marks for selfless work ethic

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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