We interrupt free agency to inform you the Lakers have announced their Summer League roster:
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The Lakers have formally introduced the assistant coaches who will be on Luke Walton’s staff. From the team’s press release:
The Los Angeles Lakers today announced the hiring of Associate Head Coach Brian Shaw and Assistant Coach Jesse Mermuys to Head Coach Luke Walton’s coaching staff. In addition, Mark Madsen has been retained as an Assistant Coach.
We have already covered hires in detail when they were first reported as on the horizon, but to summarize…
We told you heading into free agency be ready for some sticker shock. We then told you in their search for a big man, the Lakers were likely going to have to spend a lot of money. And even though we said all that, when news of the Lakers’ inking Timofey Mozgov to a 4 year, $64 million deal hit, it still came as a surprise.
Welcome to the new world of NBA spending.
I don’t think many would have been upset of this contract was handed out to a sexier “name” player — Whiteside, Biyombo — who was thought to have a higher upside and room to still grow in this league. But Mozgov is a veteran big man who turns 30 this month. It’s doubtful he will improve in any tangible way, though the hope would be he continues to sharpen his strengths to become a more effective version of the player he has been.
In any event, Mozgov is the Lakers’ new starting big man. And, while it will be impossible to ignore the price tag, it’s how good of a player he is and how his skill-set can be used by the team which also matters here.
Unlike past seasons, the Lakers have wasted no time in free agency this summer. After reportedly agreeing to a contract with Cavs big man Timofey Mozgov for 4 year, $64 million contract, the team took care of one of their own free agents late last night.
Jordan Clarkson has reached agreement on a four-year, $50M deal to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources tell The Vertical.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 1, 2016
Free agency begins this evening and with that there are some accounting and loose ends to be tied. One which is the extending of qualifying offers to your own restricted free agents in order to keep them restricted and maintain matching rights. The Lakers had several such players on their roster and made decisions on them today:
Lakers have given qualifying offers to Jordan Clarkson, Tarik Black & Marcelo Huertas making all 3 restricted, not Ryan Kelly @BBallInsiders
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) June 30, 2016
When I talked with Sam Vecenie about the Lakers’ offseason, he asked me to make one bold prediction for this summer. I asked Sam if it was bold to say the Lakers would sign Hassan Whiteside in free agency. After all, there have been murmurs of the Lakers’ interest in the Heat big man and he fills an obvious need.
Fast forward a few weeks and Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne are reporting the Lakers interest is quite real and they plan to target Whiteside when free agency opens on July 1st:
The Los Angeles Lakers plan to aggressively pursue Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside when NBA free agency starts, according to league sources.
With rim protection and perimeter shooting ranking as the Lakers’ foremost areas of concern heading into the open market, sources told ESPN that Whiteside has emerged as a priority target.
The report further notes that Whiteside is expected to command a maximum salary and, while not spelled out directly, the expectation is the Lakers would be willing to offer that amount. With a projected $94 million dollar cap, the starting salary for Whiteside earning the max would be $22.2 million in year one and would total nearly $95 million over a 4 year deal.
That, my friends, is a lot of coin.
The Lakers (and their fans) have always viewed this summer as one where they would be able to retool and grab talent in free agency. It is no coincidence Kobe Bryant’s contract expired this year or that when the Lakers did not sign top flight free agents the past two summers they did not throw long contracts at mid-tier talent. They instead signed or traded for players on short term deals which would keep their cap relatively clean this summer.
They have preached flexibility for years and this summer was a major part of that. Or, more accurately, Kevin Durant was a part of that. Getting a chance to pitch Durant on the merits of being a Laker and, potentially, bringing whoever else he wanted with him was an opportunity this franchise wanted to have. It may have been one they were even counting on. It seems, though, they may not get it.
Since it was reported Brian Shaw would return to the Lakers as Luke Walton’s lead assistant, it has been pretty quiet on the “who will be on Luke Walton’s staff” front. No leaks of names who were shoe-ins, not even any hints at who might be under consideration.
That changed over the weekend when Dave Miller brought up a name I was unfamiliar with: