Archives For Laker News

The NBA Combine has officially begun and with that executives and coaches from across the league are in Chicago to get a closer look at the talent of the future. That includes the Lakers’ decision making trio of Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka, and Luke Walton who will observe and likely meet with both top prospects and later-in-the-draft talents alike due to their potential to land near the top of the lottery while also possessing Houston’s 28th pick overall.

The draft, though, isn’t the only thing Lakers’ observers are interested in. The team’s entire summer plan offers intrigue and, when given the chance to speak with him during their combine coverage, ESPN asked Magic about potential scenarios this summer. Magic’s answer might surprise you:

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For all the change that has been happening in the Lakers’ front office, the team is also transitioning in a new way this year: they are opening a new practice facility. The announcement came last season with a ground breaking and virtual tour of what the new space would look like taking place earlier this year.

It’s all very exciting stuff and one of several ways the organization is beginning to leverage their deep pockets and stature as an LA institution (the team partnered with UCLA health to build the facility) to improve the outlook and trajectory of the franchise.

With construction nearly complete, the team put Mike Trudell in a hardhat, dispatched a camera crew, and took us inside the space for a tour. It looks as impressive in person as the list of amenities would imply:

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Shortly after we discussed the Lakers’ front office (and coaches) needing to find ways to improve for the organization to take a step forward this summer, reports have surfaced of changes within the front office which (they hope) will do just that. First it was Tim DiFrancesco resigning his post as strength and conditioning coach. Then came the resignation of director of basketball analytics Yuju Lee after the FO asked him to take on a reduced role.

And while these examples are “resignations” I would guess they are tied to a larger organizational shift being powered by Pelinka and Magic to revamp every area of the front office. I mean, the reporting on Lee already tells us the FO tried to demote him so it’s not hard to imagine DiFrancesco being presented with some marching orders he was not on board with and then resigning over them.

Anyways, what’s clear now is that the front office is not done. Far from it, actually. And it looks like the next area Pelinka and Magic want to impact is the scouting department. Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus takes us inside the team’s plans:

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Resignations seem to be a theme of late for the Lakers. Before the end of the season, Assistant GM Glenn Carraro stepped down. Then, earlier this week Strength and Conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco followed suit by resigning his post. Now, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes is reporting Director of Basketball Analytics Yuju Lee has also resigned:

Sources tell ESPN that the Los Angeles Lakers tried to demote Yuju Lee, their director of basketball analytics, but he instead decided to leave the organization altogether.

We know very little about Lee beyond what information was divulged in a press release from 2015 (when the Lakers also announced promotions for Jesse Buss and Ryan West). At that time, I wrote that I found it interesting Mitch Kupchak had decided to pull back the curtain on who was on the analytics staff, citing their credentials and background in a manner which was not consistent with the secretive manner the team operated with around this department to that point.

It was ultimately revealed that, considering the losing period the team was going through and the perception the Lakers were behind the times and an organization which did not fully embrace analytics’ value to the sport, Kupchak felt it necessary to be more transparent and forthcoming in an effort to help appease fans’ concerns in this area.

Now, though, Lee is moving on after the Lakers tried to demote him. So, does that mean the team is now taking a step backwards? My guess is the answer to that question is “no” and that has nothing to do with what I think of Lee or the job he was doing with the team. After all, I know very little about Lee and while I can rattle off the information provided about him and his credentials, those are only bullet points on press release.

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The Lakers have released a statement that F Luol Deng had surgery to repair his right pectoral muscle on Wednesday. Per the release, the surgery was a success and Deng is expected to be ready for training camp. All of which is good news.

Unlike every other player, Deng did not have a post-exit interview media session so this is the first I’d heard of Deng having a pectoral issue. That, combined with Deng being shut down for the final 22 games of the season gives us an incomplete picture of how long he was hurt, how it occurred, or the true severity of it all. Clearly it was serious enough to be repaired surgically, but the Lakers’ release gives us little more than a vague timeline and a thumbs up for it being a success.

So, yeah.

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It seems we are still feeling the fallout of the seismic shift in the Lakers’ front office. Whenever there is a power change of that magnitude, the ripple effects are felt throughout the organization and can sometimes take time to manifest. Be it firings or, as with Assistant GM Glenn Carraro before the end of the season, having staff step down, change begets change.

The Lakers saw more of that on Tuesday with a key member of their training staff.

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With the playoffs in full swing and the draft lottery not for a few more weeks, all is quiet out of El Segundo for these Lakers. The players have surely started their off-season routines, building on the season that was and using their exit interviews to inform their path ahead. For fans, out focus naturally drifts to them — the people on the court playing the games. Can they improve their craft and come back ready to make an impact on the floor next year?

This is the natural approach and the answers for each individual player are pertinent. But we’d be lying if we said that was the only area which needed improvement or where change could be used to elevate the team. When examining the Lakers’ front office and coaching staff, we should also be looking for them to take positive steps forward and come back improved for next season.

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When Jeanie Buss took a hammer to the team’s basketball operations staff by relieving Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak from their respective positions in favor of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, there was a lot of talk about guys like Ryan West and Jesse Buss and what role they would take under the new regime. As holdovers who had some name cachet and noted influence, specifically as it related to the draft, this made a lot of sense.

One holdover’s name which did not receive a lot of mention as the team transitioned to the Magic/Pelinka era, however, was Assistant GM Glenn Carraro. Well, maybe there was good reason for that. It seems Carraro is not in the team’s plans for the future.

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