From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Los Angeles: He was the first Lakers employee to scout Andrew Bynum back at the McDonald’s All-American camp in 2005 and the loudest Lakers employee to recommend the chubby 7-foot, 275-pound high school center from New Jersey with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft. Though Bynum is a grown man now, going into his seventh season whenever this lockout ends, when I caught up with him Thursday afternoon, Lester told the story of the first time he saw Bynum like it was yesterday. “Coach Bill Bertka and myself went to watch him during the week of practice they had before the McDonald’s All-American Game,” he said. “He was just so big. … The first time I saw Andrew Bynum come out of the locker room, I pointed and said to Coach Bertka, ‘Who is that?’ “He was overweight, chubby faced, chubby bodied. He needed to get in shape, but what a difference from the other high school kids.” Two months later he took a redeye to New York to watch him again. “I didn’t recognize him. He had lost 30 pounds,” Lester said. “That in and of itself, that kid losing 30 pounds in two months, that was pretty impressive right there. You knew the kid would work if he wanted something bad enough. “After the workout, I called Mitch … and told him ‘If he’s there at 10, I don’t know how you can pass the guy up.’”
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: The story, though, touches on something happening not just with the Lakers but across the NBA, highlighting real and profound costs of a work stoppage often framed as an argument between the wealthy and super-wealthy. A lot of good people, many with “regular guy” salaries, are the first to feel the impact. It’s all very unfortunate. On the other side, some players are thrown into a deeper state of limbo than others. Drew Goudelock, taken by the Lakers with the 46th pick in this year’s draft with no guarantee of making the team, now loses the structure and support normally afforded rookies. No Summer League, no access to the facility, no contact with coaches to learn the playbook. Darius Morris, L.A.’s first second round pick, and other draftees are in the same boat. (Players who have scraped their way to a tenuous NBA career, hanging on to the back end of rotations and rosters suffer as well.) We spoke with Goudelock Saturday on ESPNLA On Air, not just about his feelings on being drafted by the Lakers and his strengths and weaknesses, but how the lockout impacts efforts to get himself to the NBA. “It’s tough for me because I don’t get to be in a summer league, and be able to show myself, and showcase my talents during the summer session,” he said. “But it’s my job to stay in shape, keep playing, and get ready for when it’s over.”
From Baxter Holmes, Los Angeles Times: Kobe Bryant may take his talents to China during the NBA’s lockout. There are preliminary talks about a basketball tour to China this summer — and perhaps beyond — in which the Lakers superstar, who has called China a “home away from home” and has an enormous following there, would be the headliner with several other NBA stars forming two or three barnstorming teams. Bryant and his agent Rob Pelinka are trying to put together the tour, said Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Derrick Williams, who also is represented by Pelinka. Williams said several clients of Pelinka’s agency, the Landmark Sports Agency, could be involved in the tour. “Hopefully I would be able to do that because I’ve never been out of the country and I think that would be the best thing for me,” said Williams, the former La Mirada High and University of Arizona star who was drafted second overall in June’s NBA draft. Pelinka’s agency lists 18 NBA players as clients, including Clippers Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon, along with former USC star and Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo, and Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer. If the barnstorming tour happens, the games are likely to take place at the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. Bryant signed a three-year deal with Mercedes-Benz in February to become the brand ambassador for Smart micro cars in China and he has already been featured in a TV commercial for the car.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: Person is expected to continue to work with the defense under new coach Mike Brown. Person and Brown worked together in Indiana from 2003-05 when the Lakers’ current starting small forward, Ron Artest, played for the Pacers. “I’m very pleased to add Chuck to my coaching staff,” Brown said in a release. “I’ve seen firsthand his dedication and his desire to making the players he coaches better. The knowledge of the game that he has from his experience, both as a coach and as a former NBA player, is an invaluable asset that he brings to the team and I look forward to working with him once again.” Person has a long history in the league, starting with a 13-year playing career in which he was named Rookie of the Year in 1986-87 and continuing on through Cleveland, Indiana and Sacramento as an assistant coach before coming to Los Angeles. “Knowing coach Brown since our time with the Pacers, not only couldn’t I be happier with the opportunity to work alongside him again, but I’m thrilled to return to a franchise that I consider to be the best in professional sports,” Person said in a release. “Having been on staff for the Lakers’ 2010 championship run, I know what this team is capable of. I look forward to assisting coach Brown in helping our players regain that form and realize their potential.”
From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: Person in particular appears to be an important figure, as he will be the sole bridge between the Phil Jackson and Mike Brown eras, seeing as he was hired as an assistant in 2010. In addition, Person designed the Lakers’ defensive scheme last year, notably the decision to place Andrew Bynum in the lane on pick-and-rolls to deter the threat of penetration, which worked beautifully during the Lakers’ 17-1 streak after the All-Star break but sputtered during the last stages of the season and the playoffs as the team’s overall execution withered away. As Brown will undoubtedly incorporate much of his own defensive philosophies on the court, having the architect of the previous defense present to ease the transition will be valuable. Person and Brown previously worked together as part of Rick Carlisle’s staff in Indiana from 2003-2005. As for Snyder, it appears that he will adopt a behind the bench role, similar to his previous gig as a player development coach with the Sixers. His resume is certainly not lacking, as he started his career as an assistant with the Clippers in 1994 before joining the staff of his alma mater at Duke in 1995, and was widely credited for Duke’s success from 1997-99 after he become Mike Krzyzewski’s top assistant. He is likely best known for his success as the head coach of Missouri from 1999-2006, including several surprisingly deep runs into the tournament. After leaving Missouri, he became the head coach of the Austin Toros, the Spurs’ D-League affiliate, and was fairly successful during his time there as well. Given the extent to which the Spurs maximize the utility of their D-League resources and the similar systems that are run there from the parent club, he should be able to come in and mesh nicely with Brown’s San Antonio-based philosophies from the get go.
From Zach Lowe, The Point Forward: Lots of smart people — economists, lawyers, students of sports and business — have told me that no matter what the NBA does, it might not be able to achieve the kind of competitive balance Stern and Silver say they want. A hard cap and some revenue sharing might help, but they will not change the fact that local television will always rule. Plus, the NBA can play many more games than the NFL (football players cannot play any more for physical and medical reasons), basketball’s seven-game playoff format is a better way of determining a champion and the distribution of truly great players — and truly great tall players — might determine more than anything else who is truly in contention. “The NFL is the outlier here, not the NBA,” said Gabe Feldman, a law professor at Tulane and a sports law expert. “Whether it’s because of the 16-game schedule or the national TV deal, the NFL is not the norm. The NBA model is much closer to the norm, where you’ve got local media deals and ticket sales and parking and things like that driving the success of a team. It’s difficult to find a way to split up those local revenues.”
From Ken Berger, CBS Sports: Despite the doom-and-gloomy way the word “lockout” sounds, and all the uncertainty and risk it implies, there’s virtually no time pressure on the NBA and its players’ union to rush back into the negotiating room any time soon. That’s precisely why no compromise was reached Thursday, because there was little or no risk associated with not reaching one. But based on how the league’s most recent lockout played out in 1998, there will be a series of drop-dead dates on the calendar. We’ll get to the big ones, but the first date is one that should be filed under the category “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The first date is July 15, two weeks from Friday. The only time the NBA has ever lost games to a lockout, during the 1998-99 season, there was a gap of 36 days between the imposition of the lockout on July 1 and the next bargaining session on Aug. 6. That’s 36 wasted days, days that could have been used to constructively negotiate at least some aspects of a deal — perhaps even a better deal for both sides than the one that ultimately was agreed to in January 1999, at the cost of 32 regular season games. There is one key factor that could alter this entire timeline, so it’s worth addressing now: If the NFL fails to end its own lockout in the next few weeks, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will have no choice but to rule on that league’s appeal of a district court’s decision to briefly lift the lockout. The three-judge panel made clear during oral arguments on June 3 that the two sides should work this out themselves, because neither one would be happy with its ruling. But if the NFL negotiations stall and the 8th Circuit rules, both sides in the NBA labor dispute will pay close attention.