Robert Upshaw says he has matured since Washington dismissal

The obstacles Robert Upshaw faced once he stepped on the Lakers’ practice court seemed far more serious than his poor conditioning, learning a complex offense or fitting in with fellow rookies. Once Upshaw begins summer league play with the Lakers on Friday in Las Vegas, he will have to prove worthy of latching on an NBA team after he struggled to stay on two collegiate programs.

Both Fresno State (2012-13) and the University of Washington (2014-15) dismissed him from their programs amid unspecified violation of team rules, causing a projected first-round pick to suddenly go undrafted. He sounded fully aware that the Lakers will not view any behavior issue following the old adage that “whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

“For me, I had the opportunity come back to me every time I was let go,” said Upshaw, who missed the 2013-14 season because of NCAA transfer rules. “This time it sees real. It really does. It seems like if I don’t make this, I’m done.”
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NBA free agency: Wesley Johnson agrees to one-year deal with Clippers

Los Angeles Laker Wesley Johnson grabs a rebound against the Utah Jazz first half in the NBA preseason basketball game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. (Photo by Sean Hiller/Daily News)

Los Angeles Laker Wesley Johnson grabs a rebound against the Utah Jazz first half in the NBA preseason basketball game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. (Photo by Sean Hiller/Daily News)

As he takes another turn navigating his uncertain NBA future, Wesley Johnson will experience some similar elements.

For the third consecutive year, Johnson will play his home games at Staples Center and he will enjoy his Manhattan Beach residence. During that span, Johnson will also play for another one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum hopeful that he will fully unleash his potential to command a more lucrative contract.

But Johnson will change his uniform colors from purple and gold to blue and red. He agreed to terms on Tuesday to play for the Clippers in the 2015-16 season, according to a league source familiar with the situation. Johnson will continue an interesting trend in which former Lakers have joined their inner-city rival in recent years, including Ronny Turiaf, Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Matt Barnes and Jordan Farmar.

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Lou Williams believes he can help Kobe Bryant reduce his workload

Lou Williams, who was the NBA's Siixth Man of the Year with the Toronto Raptors last season, has agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with the Lakers. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Lou Williams, who was the NBA’s Siixth Man of the Year with the Toronto Raptors last season, has agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with the Lakers. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Father Time delivered three devastating punches that took Kobe Bryant away from the court for three consecutive years. That made the Lakers determined to find some antibiotics to ensure their star patient can delay the inevitable against an undefeated opponent.

Bryant would have surgery on his injured right shoulder and go through a nine-month recovery process aimed at fully healing his battered body. The Lakers would upgrade their roster so neither coach Byron Scott nor Bryant would feel he has to carry a burden that would become too heavy to lift. The Lakers would then become even more conservative with Bryant’s playing time, practice regiment and off-day routines.

The Lakers did not accumulate the talent they wanted, striking out on free agent bigfish named LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe and DeAndre Jordan. But the Lakers collected a decent consolation prize in Lou Williams, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year who could ease Bryant’s workload because they both share the same position and love for scoring.

“When he goes out, I’m sure I’ll be coming in,” Williams said of Bryant in a phone interview on Monday with Los Angeles News Group. “That’s how it will work. We won’t have too many lapses. We’ll be able to keep the scoring level going and give him an opportunity to get a breather and then he’ll come back in.”

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Julius Randle believes improved diet will help conditioning, versatility

The moment left Julius Randle giddy, prompting the Lakers forward to set an alarm early on Monday morning so he could have a head start on a potentially big day. The excitement seemed so overwhelming that Randle woke even before his alarm rang.

This adrenaline rush all pointed toward the Lakers beginning their summer league practices before they play in Las Vegas beginning on Friday. Such episodes may hardly compare to the feeling Randle had when the Lakers selected him seventh overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. It likely does not match the build up leading into Randle making his NBA regular-season debut nearly nine months ago. But considering that night also coincided with Randle experiencing a season-ending injury with a fractured right tibia, his participation in Monday’s summer league practice meant something both tangible and symbolic.

After spending recent weeks completing full-court five-on-five drills, Randle’s participated on Monday in his first organized practice. After spending nearly the whole year off the court, Randle emerged from the sidelines feeling more comfortable about his conditioning, jump shot and versatility than when he entered training camp last year huffing and puffing his way through conditioning drills.

“I definitely felt a lot better,” Randle said. “I could get through it a lot better than I was last time. I’m more mentally prepared and physically prepared than I was last year.”

Randle then had graded himself a “C,” believing the lack of training stemmed from a contract delay and rehab surrounding his right foot slowed his progress. But Randle also followed through on the Lakers’ insistence, led by strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco, to cut out sweets in place of grass-fed food. Randle reported those efforts ensured that he lost 15 pounds in fat, resulting in a slimmed down and chiseled frame that can adapt both to Byron Scott’s conditioning-heavy practices and actual games.

“The credit goes to my coaches for staying on me and not letting this down time being injured be a step in the wrong direction,” Randle said. “I’m taking advantage of it the most that I could. It’s also me with my drive and will and people supporting me. The credit goes to all of them.”
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NBA free agency: Lakers to sign Brandon Bass

The Lakers are continuing to fill out its roster, announcing that they plan to sign free-agent forward Brandon Bass once the NBA moratorium ends on July 9.

The terms of the deal are not immediately clear. But the move may require the Lakers to trade players to free up cap space, with candidates including Nick Young, Ryan Kelly and/or Robert Sacre. Those players are the only ones with guaranteed contracts for the 2015-16 season besides Kobe Bryant, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and Larry Nance. Jr, all players the Lakers have no intentions of trading. The Lakers also have a room exception worth $2.8 million.

The 30-year-old Bass averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 82 games with the Celtics last season.

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LaMarcus Aldridge turns down Lakers, who make deal for Pacers’ Hibbert

NBA free agency: Lou Williams reportedly agrees to three-year, $21 million deal with Lakers

Ed Davis on leaving Lakers: “I didn’t really want to wait around”

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: Lou Williams reportedly agrees to three-year, $21 million deal with Lakers

The Lakers just acquired a player who could provide secondary scoring, former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams agreeing to a three-year, $21 million deal, according to Real GM.

Williams will join a Lakers’ backcourt that currently includes Kobe Bryant, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Nick Young and Jabari Brown. The move could entice Lakers’ coach Byron Scott to play Bryant and Young more at small forward. It could also give the Lakers insurance for Young, whether it involves the team trading him or if he maintains inconsistency next season.

Williams won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season after averaging a career-high 15.5 points with the Toronto Raptors. Williams has averaged 11.9 points and shot 34.1 percent from 3-point range in his 10-year NBA career, including stops with the Philadelphia 76ers (2005-12), Atlanta Hawks (2012-14) and Raptors (2014-15).

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LaMarcus Aldridge turns down Lakers, who make deal for Pacers’ Hibbert

Ed Davis on leaving Lakers: “I didn’t really want to wait around”

Lakers to feature D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle on summer league roster

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: LaMarcus Aldridge agrees to deal with Spurs

The Lakers would love to get free-agent forward LaMarcus Aldridge, but it appears unlikely. STREETER LECKA — GETTY IMAGES

The Lakers would love to get free-agent forward LaMarcus Aldridge, but it appears unlikely. STREETER LECKA — GETTY IMAGES

The Lakers officially missed out on their top free agent target, sending a prideful organization into a summer of tailspin on its rebuilding efforts.

LaMarcus Aldridge has agreed to a four-year deal worth $80 million to the San Antonio Spurs, according to a league source, a move that should ensure the franchise’s continuity even whenever Tim Duncan retires. Aldridge has a player option in his final season, a league source said.

“I’m happy to say I’m going home to Texas and will be a Spur!!” Aldridge wrote on Twitter. I’m excited to join the team and be close to my family and friends.”

The Lakers are hardly excited to hear this news. They have missed out on all their top free agent targets for three consecutive years, including Dwight Howard (2013), LeBron James (2014), Carmelo Anthony (2014), Pau Gasol (2014), Greg Monroe (2015), DeAndre Jordan (2015) and Aldridge (2015). They also could not even land a meeting for certain marquee players this year, such as Cleveland forward Kevin Love and Memphis center Marc Gasol.

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NBA free agency: DeAndre Jordan nearing a deal with Dallas

DeAndre Jordan met with the Clippers on Thursday, as the team hopes to retain the center. (Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer)

DeAndre Jordan met with the Clippers on Thursday, as the team hopes to retain the center. (Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer)

DeAndre Jordan is nearing a decision that will make a ripple effect in Los Angeles far more thunderous than one of his dunks.

Jordan will agree to a four-year, $80 million to the Dallas Mavericks, according to multiple reports, leaving the Clippers without a star center they want to retain and the Lakers without a star center they wanted to obtain.

It was expected that Jordan would decide between either the Clippers or Mavericks. He had entered free agency giving the Clippers a “a slight edge,” according to a league source familiar with his thinking, because of his development there during his seven-year career and affection for coach Doc Rivers. Jordan also would have made $108 million through five years with the Clippers.

But Jordan walked away from his meetings Dallas impressed with their pitch, most notably on the basketball end. After meeting with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on Tuesday evening, Jordan visited the Mavericks for a 4 1/2 hours on Wednesday. Then, Jordan had met with Cuban, president Donnie Nelson, coach Rick Carlisle, forward Dirk Nowitzki and forward Chandler Parsons.

Meanwhile, Jordan found the Lakers “very professional” and considered their two-hour meeting on Wednesday night a “strong presentation,” a league source familiar with the situation. But the Lakers are coming off worst record in L.A. franchise history. Jordan also ruled out the New York Knicks, who only went 17-65 last season.

That leaves the Lakers officially empty handed again after also striking out on Detroit center Greg Monroe and failing to retain forward Ed Davis. The Lakers had a second meeting on Thursday with Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge, but he is believed to be favoring San Antonio.

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Clippers make pitch: DeAndre Jordan to decide future in next few days

Will Lakers’ second meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge pay off?

Ed Davis on leaving Lakers: “I didn’t really want to wait around”

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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Ed Davis on leaving Lakers: “I didn’t really want to wait around”

"The Lakers’ Ed Davis #21 lays the ball up as the Grizzlies’  Jon Leuer #30 looks on during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 2, 2015.  The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 109-106. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)"

Ed Davis agreed to a three-year, $20 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 109-106. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)”

The appreciation for the Lakers grew as they granted Ed Davis a significant role. So did Davis’ affection for Lakers coach Byron Scott, general manager Mitch Kupchak and his teammates.

Yet, Davis went against his hopes that he would re-sign with the Lakers at a more lucrative contract than the $1 million he made last season. Instead, he agreed to a three-year deal worth $20 million with no team or player options with the Portland Trail Blazers. The reasons went deeper beyond any monetary or basketball reasons. Also chalk it up to a case of timing.

“They wanted me to come back,” Davis said of the Lakers in a phone interview with Los Angeles News Group. “But I felt like this was the right decision for me. I didn’t really want to wait around. I was comfortable with everything there. I wanted to go back. Nothing went bad or anything.”
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Lakers to feature D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle on summer league roster

Former Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell talks with media after he worked out with Lakers on Monday, June, 8. (Photo by Stephen Carr/Daily Breeze)

Former Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell talks with media after he worked out with Lakers on Monday, June, 8. (Photo by Stephen Carr/Daily Breeze)

The Lakers’ 2015-16 regular season will not start for another four months. The NBA schedule will likely become finalized in another month. But next week, the Lakers will see an early glimpse on what their team will look like when their Las Vegas summer league squad will play.

Point guard D’Angelo Russell will play professionally for the first time since the Lakers drafted him last week with the No. 2 pick. Julius Randle will play for the first time since suffering a season-ending right leg injury in the team’s season opener. Jordan Clarkson will suit up in hopes of building off a promising rookie season in which he made the NBA All-Rookie first team. The Lakers other draft picks in power forward Larry Nance Jr. and small forward Anthony Brown will be there, too. So will power forward Tarik Black and Jabari Brown, who have non-guaranteed contracts with the Lakers.
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