HOLLYWOOD, CA – JULY 15: Professional basketball player Nick Young attends the Body at ESPYS Pre-Party at Lure on July 15, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for ESPN)
Photo Credit – Getty Images for ESPN
A sense of joy and relief filled Nick Young’s emotions as he processed the Lakers securing him to a four-year, $21.5 million deal. The joy entailed basking in relative riches after his gamble to opt out of his $1.2 million player option paid off in securing a longer and more lucrative contract with the Lakers. The relief reflected Young’s uncertainty on whether the Lakers would keep him amid their hope to maintain financial flexibility and their continuous pursuit of Carmelo Anthony.
“I thought, ‘Maybe I might end up being somewhere else,” Young told this newspaper Tuesday night at Lure Nightclub, which hosted an ESPN-sponsored red carpet event commemorating its recent Body issue. “I knew if Melo signed here, I would pretty much have to go somewhere else.”
Before Young could become too giddy about staying in his hometown, he received an important phone call from Kobe Bryant. The message went beyond congratulating Young, a former Cleveland Reseda High and USC standout, on staying in his hometown.
“He was the first person to call me. He was telling me to get in the gym and work hard,” Young recalled. “They’re already counting us out.”
BOSTON, MA – DECEMBER 19: during the game on December 19, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
After keeping focus both on the NBA draft and free agency, the Lakers will shift back to their coaching search that has already lasted nearly three months. Byron Scott will meet with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive Jim Buss on Wednesday, according to a league source familiar with the situation. This will mark his third formal interview Scott will have with the Lakers since the coaching search started after Mike D’Antoni resigned on April 30.
Scott is expected to talk to the Lakers’ brass about the team’s personnel in the wake of a flurry of free agent moves. It is not expected Scott will field an offer at this specific offer and dive into contract negotiations. After missing out on both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the Lakers acquired Jeremy Lin and a 2015 first and second round draft pick from the Houston Rockets for the rights of overseas player Sergei Lishchuk. The Lakers lost out on Pau Gasol, but they kept Nick Young (four years, $21.5 million) and Jordan Hill (two years, $18 million).
The Lakers are expected to hire their coach within the next one to two weeks, according to a league source familiar with the situation. But the source also added the hiring “could happen within a couple of days.” The Lakers plan to have follow-up interviews, though it remains unclear if they would go beyond talking to Scott again.
Photo: Keith Birmingham Pasadena Star-News
Most of the Lakers’ offseason work appears complete. Almost. They still have not hired a head coach. They also have around four or five spots to fill out the rest of the roster.
So how will all of this play out?
The Lakers expect to name a head coach within the next week or two. But the Lakers will likely fill out their roster beforehand. That leaves the Lakers’ remaining free agents in Ryan Kelly, Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson in varying states of limbo.
The Lakers expect to re-sign Kelly soon. They also like Henry, but it does not appear any deal is imminent. And the Lakers remain mixed on Johnson, who is not considered a priority.
LA Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak will be the leader of the Lakers’ search for a new coach.. (File photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze)
Although the Lakers expect to hire a coach within the next week or two, a league source familiar with the situation said the hiring “could happen within a couple of days.”
Before that happens though, the Lakers plan to have followup interviews with candidates they have already interviewed. That pool has narrowed, though. The Lakers have contacted Byron Scott, Mike Dunleavy, Kurt Rambis, Alvin Gentry, Lionel Hollins and George Karl since Mike D’Antoni resigned on April 30. But several candidates have dropped out by virtue of other jobs, including Hollins (Brooklyn Nets’ head coach), Gentry (Golden State Warriors associate coach) and Rambis (New York Knicks assistant coach).
Scott has been considered the favored candidate after having two interviews and informal discussions with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive Jim Buss. Dunleavy had a formal interview only with Kupchak. And Karl had an informal phone conversation with Kupchak. It is “possible” the Lakers will have interviews with other candidates, according to a league source, but it is not definitive.
With the Lakers trying to canvas every scenario into bolstering their team, it appears plausible that Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki represented one of the many free agents they inquired about in the past two weeks.
But a Lakers official disputed ESPN report that indicated the team tried to entice Nowitkzki to leave Dallas for max-level money. The report said that Nowitzki refused to enter negotiations with the Houston Rockets or Lakers. But a Lakers source familiar with the situation said the team would have never offered a max-level offer to Nowitzki considering they planned to set that money aside both to pursue LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
The reactions ranged from eye gazing to eye cringing.
The Lakers marveled when their prized rookie Julius Randle bulldozed his way into the lane and muscled his way to produce 14 points in the team’s 89-88 overtime victory on Monday over Golden State in an NBA summer league game at Cox Pavilion. So much that Lakers’ summer league co-coach Mark Madsen described Randle to reporters in Las Vegas as a “matchup nightmare.” Madsen remembered all too well that he had the strenuous responsibility last month to guard Randle during his individual pre-draft workout.
“I know what it’s like to try to sit and guard him one-on-one,” Madsen said. “You can’t guard him one-on-one.”
The Lakers winced when Randle brought up the ball up the floor. He committed five turnovers. He remained determined at times to bring the ball up the floor. At times, Randle appeared in a bull in a china shop. Yet, Randle believes “it’s part of my game.”
“That’s something you show Julius on tape the next day,” Madsen said. “I didn’t want to take away his aggressiveness out there in terms of just allowing him to attack. We talked before the game on how we put the whole game plan up and you can follow the game plan to a ‘T.’ But ultimately we just want them to be aggressive. I’d rather that they have, like [John] Wooden used to say, an error of commission rather than an error of omission.”
The clock kept approaching toward zero. His teammate’s bid for a game-winning shot went unsuccessful. So, the Lakers’ star bailed his team out with a theatrical putback.
No, Kobe Bryant is not back on the floor. This moment came from Jordan Clarkson, the 46th player out of the NBA draft that remains determined to prove he should have been selected higher. Well, he provided another solid rebuttal. Clarkson posted the game-winning tip-in with .05 seconds left in the Lakers’ 89-88 overtime victory on Monday over Golden State in an NBA summer league game at Cox Pavilion after fellow rookie Julius Randle missed a potential game-winner along the baseline.
As soon as the ball went through the basket, Clarkson ran cross court full of giddiness as if he guided the Lakers to a key regular-season or playoff win.
“I just continued to play,” Clarkson told reporters in Las Vegas. “I thought Julius was going to make the shot. I just continued to play and tried to follow the ball.”
With one tip of their cap, people of all walks of life paid respect to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Former New York mayor Rudy Guliani. Actor Billy Crystal. Rapper Jay-Z. Even Knicks president Phil Jackson and Lakers president Jeanie Buss.
Both Jackson and Buss, longtime companions, sat side-by-side in the commercial above donning hats representing their respective teams.
The Jackson-Buss dynamic has taken a recently interesting twist beyond appearing in Jeter’s Nike commercial that ends with Michael Jordan tipping his own cap. Both Jackson and Buss competed against each other in pursuing Carmelo Anthony, who decided to re-sign with New York for a five-year deal reported at $120 million. Both Jackson and Buss have publicly downplayed that dynamic, but it appears Jackson’s drawing power has paid off.
It remains to be seen whether Jackson’s vision will fully translate into rebuilding the Knicks. Or if Jeanie and her brother, Jim, will turn the Lakers’ franchise around. But for now, Jackson and Buss enjoyed their time together paying homage to one of baseball’s greats.
Pau Gasol to maintain philanthropic efforts in Los Angeles
Pau Gasol leaves Los Angeles Lakers for Chicago Bulls
Lakers trying to make the best of ‘Plan B’
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at email@example.com
No longer will Pau Gasol step on the court showing off his dazzling array of post-moves and passing while wearing a Lakers uniform. After spending 6 1/2 seasons helping the Lakers to two NBA championships, adapting to varying roles and listening to endless trade rumors, Gasol officially decided on Sunday that he will join the Chicago Bulls.
On his Web site, Gasol called leaving the Lakers an “extremely difficult decision” before expressing gratitude for his two NBA championships, Kobe Bryant and former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. But the strong emotions went beyond no longer wearing the purple and gold. Gasol also remains mindful about his philanthropic impact with Los Angeles that entailed extensive relationships with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and MySafeLA. Yet, Gasol maintained those efforts will still stay ongoing.
“Despite the move,” Gasol said, “I intend to maintain close ties with the Los Angeles community, which will always feel like home to me.”
Julius Randle only had 20 minutes between signing his contract and appearing in his first NBA Summer League game. But he played anyway. Randle, the Lakers’ seventh overall draft pick, sat out of contact practices for a week while waiting for the Lakers to finalize his deal. But he played anyway. Randle had not participated in a full contact game since appearing in Kentucky’s national championship loss to UConn three months ago. But he played anyway.
It appears nothing would hold Randle back from jumping back onto the court as soon as he was allowed to, his contract signing delay stemming from the Lakers doing so to free up an additional $500,000 to pursue Carmelo Anthony. Once that wait ended, Randle wasted no time trying to get acclimated in the Lakers’ 90-73 loss to New Orleans Sunday at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
As shown in the video above, Randle posted 10 points on 4-o-f-9 shooting and two rebounds in 21 minutes, showing a mix of potential and rust along the way. He scored the game’s first five points, but he also badly mistimed a jumper and 3-point attempt. Randle appeared aggressive running up and down the floor, but two rebounds hardly fills what he will need to provide in future games.
Randle did not shy away from contact, perhaps showing more evidence that his right foot that is determined not to need surgery will remain just fine. Yet, Randle also showed some rust perhaps by virtue of both his inexperience and recent absence while waiting to finalize his contract.
All of which suggests Randle will develop just fine the more he plays. That next step may take place as soon as Monday when the Lakers play the Golden State Warriors at 7 p.m. at Cox Pavilion.
Lakers officially acquire Jeremy Lin from Houston Rockets
NBA free agency: Pau Gasol leaves Los Angeles Lakers for Chicago Bulls
NBA free agency: Los Angeles Lakers trying to make the best of ‘Plan B’
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org