The calendar has turned to August and news surrounding the Lakers roster is starting to dry up. However, there’s still some news to report and we’re here to give you the most updated information we can…
*For those concerned about the hold up in Phil actually signing his new contract to coach the Lakers, fret no more. Mr. Eleven Championships has finally put pen to paper to return as head man of the defending champs. And while there aren’t a lot of details about the deal (really, there aren’t any details in regards to years, dollar amounts, incentives), we can all breath a bit easier now that Phil is officially back pacingsitting on the sidelines and stoically not calling timeouts as the Lakers pursue another championship. Not that I was ever concerned about his return. I will, however, be waiting on any information about the actual terms of the deal whenever those are released. Is it a one year deal as expected? How much (if any) of a paycut did Phil take? Do incentives still exist for winning the championship? Curious minds want to know.
*Phil’s assistants – Brian Shaw, Frank Hamblen, and Jim Cleamons – have also all been brought back into the fold. And special assistant Chuck Person has had the “special” lifted from his title and is now just a plain ol’ assistant coach. I’m happy for the return of “The Rifleman” as he did a lot of good work behind the scenes(h/t to Land O’ Lakers) and got a lot of good ink during the playoffs for helping Kobe refine the release on his shot due to his busted index finger. On a side note, Person was a player that I always liked during his playing days. He may not have been much of a defender, but he was a fiery competitor that could fill it up from anywhere on the court.
*With the coaching staff now settled and back in full, the last questions have to do with who (if anyone) will fill out the Lakers roster. The Lakers are still in talks with Shannon Brown’s agent about a return of WOW and I’m hopeful that something can be worked out so that he does indeed return. I’ve noted (and we can all agree) that Shannon has holes in his game and that he’ll likely never be a starter on a team the caliber of the Lakers (especially not with #24 in the mix). However, his athleticism and want to play the right way are excellent traits to have on a team and I think he’ll continue to make strides in his development to the point that he can be a steadier contributor in future seasons. Plus, as we’ve discussed, Sasha’s contract runs out after next season and Matt Barnes’ deal has a player option after next season. It’s quite realistic that the Lakers could be looking for another back up on the wing after next season and Brown could easily be that guy if Sasha/Barnes do in fact leave. If the Lakers really like Shannon (and it seems like they do), it seems like a good idea to make a commitment to him now so that in another year they’re not right back where they are now – looking for a back up for Kobe.
*Speaking of Sasha, there have been reports recently that the Lakers are looking to get rid of his contract. One report had the Lakers looking to trade Sasha for Delonte West in a deal that would save a couple million dollars (including the luxury tax payment) as West makes less than the Machine. This led to speculation that the Lakers would add another head casein the talented, yet troubled combo guard. However, now that West has been waived by the T-Wolves that rumor can go away as West is a UFA and can’t be traded for any longer. All that said, I think we should point out (as Kurt did) that any acquisition of West would likely have led to the Lakers waiving the guard who only had a partial guarantee on next year’s contract. That would have saved the Lakers some real money and freed up both the cash and minutes that Shannon probably craves from any of his suitors. Anyways, now that any deal for West is dead the Lakers are likely still trying make a move with Sasha though no one knows if they’ll actually make progress on that front. It will be interesting to see, however, if the Sasha’s status with the Lakers influences any of the ongoing talks with Shannon’s agent.
*The Lakers still have not signed either of their rookies to contracts, but I have not heard of any snags in that department and anticipate that both Ebanks and Caracter will be signed to deals at some point before camp begins. As I’ve expressed before, I’m high on both of these kids as talents and think that Mitch got two steals at points in the draft that don’t typically produce NBA caliber players. And while I hesitate to take too much from their summer league performances, I believe that both of these players have enough ability to step in and play moderate minutes in a pinch as they both have a maturity to their physiques and games that could translate to the NBA right away.