Brandon Ingram is the last 1st round pick from the 2016 NBA draft who has yet to sign his rookie contract. That, though, will change on Tuesday according to Shams Charania of The Vertical:

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The Lakers made the long discussed Yi Jianlian signing official today. From their press release:

“We’re excited to have a player of his worldwide accomplishments,” said Kupchak. “We look forward to bringing him to training camp and hopefully having him make an impact on our team.”

Yi, who hails from the Guangdong Province in China, recently concluded competing for his country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, averaging 20.4 points (3rd overall in group play competition), 6.6 rebounds (6th), 1.4 steals (t-6th), and 1.0 blocks (t-6th) per game over his five contests while shooting 46.7% from three-point range.

We have discussed this pending signing plenty, but there was still the open question about how much Yi would earn this upcoming season. There had been reports that his contract would be for $8 million, but we now have more clarity on how, exactly, that number could be achieved. From Broderick Turner of the LA Times:

The contract for Yi is one year at the veteran’s minimum of $1.13 million that could reach as high as $8 million this season if he reaches several wide-ranging incentive bonuses in the deal.

Without getting into all the minutiae of contract language or the nuances of the collective bargaining agreement, it will be interesting to know exactly what types of bonuses exist in the deal. Bonuses pretty much fall into two categories: likely or unlikely. That said, bonuses which are considered “unlikely” cannot makeup too high a percentage of overall contract value in order for the deal to be legal by league standards.

So, again, I am interested in knowing what the bonuses are and how that translates to what Yi will actually make this next season. My guess is that by the end of the year he actually will not make the full $8 million.

That said, none of that really matters much to me. As we have discussed previously, Yi fills a role which is currently lacking on the team (stretch big man), but plays a position (PF/C) which already has a lot of players who the Lakers have invested in via draft picks or high salary. How Luke Walton balances minutes while maintaining buy-in is storyline I will be watching intently throughout the season.

The Lakers announced Friday they have added 4 coaches to Luke Walton’s staff. Three of the coaches are new hires while the 4th was an internal promotion from the defenders. The team also hired a video coordinator. From the team’s press release:

The Los Angeles Lakers announced today that the team has hired Jud Buechler, Brian Keefe, and Theo Robertson as player development coaches on Head Coach Luke Walton’s staff, joining associate head coach Brian Shaw and assistant coaches Jesse Mermuys and Mark Madsen. Additionally, it was announced that Casey Owens has been named assistant coach/advance professional scout and Will Scott has been named to the staff as video coordinator.

Owens takes on the most prominent role here, moving up from the head man on the D-Fenders to an assistant and advanced scout under Walton. Owens time with the D-Fenders can only be considered a great success, with his team appearing in the D-League Finals this past season. Owens is considered a smart offensive coach who relates well to players, offering encouragement and building their confidence in the process.

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After a Marc Stein report Tuesday evening stated the Lakers and former lottery pick Yi Jianlian were in advanced talks, there are now reports coming out of China that the deal is done. Our thoughts on how Jianlian fits on the Lakers haven’t really changed — the skill set is solid and a role could be carved out, but that likely comes at the expense of young players the Lakers should be more focused.

But it seems a new wrinkle may impact how this signing could be viewed. Namely, what Yi will be paid. It was originally thought a minimum contract would be agreed upon. As Eric Pincus notes, for a player with 5 years NBA experience, that amount would be roughly $1.14 million. However, back in 2015, Yi signed a contract extension with the Guangdong Tigers which would pay him roughly $3.2 million a season for 5 seasons.

It would seem strange, then, that he would come back to the states to make roughly one-third that amount, even if it did mean playing in the best league in the world. I mean, why would anyone do that? Well, it seems like they wouldn’t. I bet they would for over double that amount, though:

Yeah, one year, $8 million would probably do it.

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Remember back in the summer of 2013 when the Lakers took gambles on former first round picks to see if those guys could revive their careers in Los Angeles? Kobe had just torn his achilles and Dwight Howard had just walked without compensation so the team turned to guys who were called busts or never quite lived up to their draft slot — Wes Johnson, Xavier Henry, MarShon Brooks, Kendall Marshall — as low risk high reward signings.

That summer and those signings instantly popped into my head when I read Marc Stein’s report the Lakers are in “advanced talks” to bring former lottery pick Yi Jianlian back to the NBA from China. Here’s Stein:

Sources told ESPN.com that the Lakers tried in the summer of 2015 to sign Yi and have renewed those efforts in the wake of the former lottery pick’s fourth trip to the Summer Olympics as a cornerstone player for China.

The 7-footer, now 28, has spent the past four seasons with the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association and averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds for China in its five games in Rio.

A deal is not yet done to secure Yi’s return to the NBA, but sources say talks are ongoing and that the Lakers are hopeful of adding him to the roster before training camp begins in late September.

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Regardless of how one views the Lakers’ off-season, what cannot really be argued is that the Lakers have improved their talent base. A simple look at the players who have come in vs. the players who have departed spells this out pretty quickly:

In: Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, Brandon Ingram, Jose Calderon, Ivica Zubac
Out: Kobe Bryant, Brandon Bass, Roy Hibbert, Metta World Peace, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly

The only player on that out list who posted a PER over a league average mark is Brandon Bass. Bass played nobly as a back up C last season, playing well on offense overall while providing smart, rugged defense both individually and at the team level. He was everything fans would have wanted from a veteran leader and he will be missed.

However, beyond Bass (and Kobe*, who I will discuss later) the Lakers have essentially let go of players who were well below replacement level and have swapped them for players who are likely better than that. I understand that is not saying much, but when you are working up from a 17 win team, even marginal improvements matter a great deal on the bottom line. This is the new world, Lakers’ fans.

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It is the middle of August. Asking legitimate questions about how an NBA team’s rotation shakes out really is all speculation. Teams haven’t yet convened for camp. They haven’t practiced or played a pre-season game. Things like injuries or trades or…really, everything, have not yet influenced how roster battles will shake out or even the final composition of the team.

However, after stating those caveats, a question has been lingering with me since early July and I just can’t seem to shake it any longer: Could Marcelo Huertas Beat out Jose Calderon as Backup PG?

In a way, this seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? Calderon is a known product who has had a ton of success in the NBA. While he’s 34 now, Huertas isn’t much younger at 32 and their relative NBA experience leans heavily towards Calderon having the inside track to back up D’Angelo Russell at point guard. It’s this background which basically led me to believe Huertas wouldn’t even be brought back after the Calderon trade happened.

Then, however, Huertas was re-signed. And then the Olympics started. Then Huertas’ Brazilian team (with him playing a big role) beat Calderon’s Spanish team (with him being marginalized and only playing two minutes) in a notable — though not shocking — upset. Then the very smart John Schumann of NBA.com tweeted this:

Where is the thinking face emoji when I need it?

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During his exit interview after the season, Robert Sacre said he wanted to return to the Lakers next season. As the only NBA team he’d ever played for, Sacre said he was comfortable in Los Angeles, loved the city and the fans of the team, and did not want to uproot his family.

Well, despite his professed hopes, Robert Sacre will not return to the Lakers next season. Instead, he will fight for a roster spot in New Orleans:

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