Half the Lakers roster exited stage left in recent weeks – one way or another. Just as quickly and with little fanfare, the team has been filling holes on the cheap. Center Chris Kaman nabbed the mini mid-level exception and Jordan Farmar’s overseas buyout is still being negotiated. Gunner Nick Young was brought in as was former 4th overall draft pick Wesley Johnson. Last year’s #60 draft pick Robert Sacre will be back for another year and this year’s #48 pick Ryan Kelley, a classic stretch 4, has been watching summer league action from the sidelines while his foot heals from surgery.
Also on the sidelines in Las Vegas is new assistant coach Mark Madsen, along with Kurt Rambis who’s what you might call an interested party. One spent three years as a Laker reserve power forward, the other invested 20 years in the organization as a player, executive, assistant coach and interim head coach. Each has been away in recent years. Dan D’antoni is running the summer league coaching staff and brother Mike has been keeping a watchful eye on things.
When it comes to the summer league prospects on the floor, a few show real potential for fall training camp invites. In truth however, there may be fewer openings than first assumed – especially given that free agent Lamar Odom is still floating around out there. What will the eventual roster look like? Not dissimilar to other recent Laker lineups – a banged-up Kobe Bryant, a few complimentary aging stars and a supporting cast of role players. Is the pendulum slowly returning to center?
Newly-signed center Chris Kaman is looking to regain the form that won him an All-Star berth in 2010. Mike Bresnahan for the LATimes has the story.
Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne break down what many already thought was going to be the case: the Lakers are all in for the top names in free agency next summer. In other words, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
As for chasing the next big star, Ramona Shelburne also reports that Kobe Bryant may end up recruiting targets just as hard as Mitch Kupchak.
The Kamenetzky Brothers offer up a Land O’Lakers podcast on Metta’s departure and the arrival of new free agents.
Drew Garrison from Silver Screen and Roll reports that Kurt Rambis is “close to” joining the Lakers coaching staff.
At Lakers.com, Mike Trudell sat down with advanced scout Clay Moser who broke down the games of the team’s summer roster. Good information on all.
While fringe hopefuls are showcasing their talents in Las Vegas, the Drew League in South Central L.A. is celebrating its 40th anniversary pro-am season. Dave McMenamin from ESPN writes about it.
Ryan Ward for Lakers Nation reports that Nick Young’s deal with the Lakers is for two years, not one.
Andrew Unterberger for The Basketball Jones has been chronicling this past season’s 100 most memorable moments. Here are the Top 10.
Diffused sunlight streamed through the windows of the Lakers facility warmth room in El Segundo. The sweet smell of sage in the air, steam rising off heated stones. A silverhaired gentleman sat on the floor in front of a ring of players including Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and a few other veterans of the grand old days. Assistant coaches Kurt Rambis and Mark Madsen each sat in a corner, observing. Madsen was wearing a peasant shirt made from natural fibers and a headband. Some of the newer and younger Lakers sat cross-legged in the back row, excited to be a part of this action.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni was in an irritable mood. It was just the latest in a long string of irritable moods. He stalked down the Toyota Center hallway, opened the door to the warmth room and poked his head in. “Are we going to practice at some point today? C’mon fellas!”
Phil Jackson opened his eyes, looked toward the intrusion at the door. He had been in an advanced state of mindfulness and did not appreciate having his flow interrupted. “You know you’re not allowed in here, Michael. We are exploring my 11 levels to success.”
The younger members of the Lakers swiveled their heads back and forth like meerkats at a tennis match. This was truly excellent. Kobe, Pau and some of the other elders just smirked.
A vein bulged on the side of Mike D’Antoni’s head. “Fine! How much longer are they gonna be?”
Phil took a deep breath, studied a ring on his finger. He had selected number 10 today. He quite liked it. Then again, he liked all of his rings. He looked back toward the angry head coach and smiled peacefully. “Am I gonna have to call security again?”
Mike D’Antoni threw his hands up in the air and stalked off. The sound of a kicked chair echoed somewhere down the hall. Some of the players snickered. Kobe Bryant stared at them until they quieted down.
Phil closed his eyes again and spoke. “I’d like you all to refocus your breath. Brother Madsen, will you light some fresh sage?”
To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn.