Early this morning, it was reported that the Lakers would be signing Alex Caruso to a contract. This was the first report I, personally, saw:

Ramona Shelburne is reporting further details, noting it will be a 2-year contract and one of the NBA’s new “two-way” deals which allows a player to shuffle between a parent club and their G-League affiliate. In this case, then, Caruso will likely spend most of his time with the South Bay Lakers, though could get an opportunity with the Lakers for stretches.

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After a rough first outing that saw him shoot poorly (though make good decisions overall) and then bounce back with a triple double in his second game, things were looking up for Lonzo Ball in Las Vegas. Then, a sore groin kept him out of a game against the Kings and De’Aaron Fox, which prompted critiques and calls of him “ducking the fade” coming to him from the former Kentucky guard who dropped a boatload of points on the Bruins in the NCAA tourney.

So, it seemed like whatever progress Ball made had been reeled back in. That narrative got flipped on its head Wednesday night, though. Rocking a purple pair of Kobe AD’s instead of his own BBB kicks, Lonzo came out and played the game fans and critics alike were wanting to see from him.

36 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 5 steals, and two blocks. He hit 12 of his 22 shots, got to the rim in the half court, and dominated the transition game with full court attacks off the bounce and via outlet passes to streaking teammates. This was the guy the Lakers drafted #2 overall. He was glorious.

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When it was originally reported that the Lakers had agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of my first thoughts was “that is more money than they have in cap space”. Well, it turns out, in order to get closer to that amount the team was going to have to clear a little bit of salary.

That happened today when the team announced they’d waived David Nwaba. Nwaba’s contract for next season was just picked before the start of free agency, but his salary for next season was actually not guaranteed if he was waived before January 10, 2018 according to Eric Pincus at Basketball Insiders. This gave the team some wiggle room to execute a move just like this one, should they need a hair of extra cap space to give to a free agent.

The question now, however, is whether Nwaba will be back on the team soon should he clear waivers. Again, here’s Pincus, via twitter:

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The Lakers’ quiet off-season is now officially over. After having discussions with several free agents (George Hill, Dion Waiters), the team has found its man (and someone to take their money) in former Piston Kentavious Caldwell-Pope:

First, it’s important to note how unlikely this exact signing would have been a week ago.

KCP entered this summer as a restricted free agent with the Pistons. It was not until the Celtics secured Gordon Hayward in free agency and needed to off-load some salary did things shift. Danny Ainge executed a trade with the Pistons, sending Avery Bradley to Detroit for Marcus Morris. Adding Bradley meant that Stan Van Gundy found his “shooting guard of the future” and it made KCP expendable. Gone went his qualifying offer and with it his restricted status. He could now go to any team he wanted.

And he chose the Lakers and their one-year deal. Excuse me if I seem shocked. I am. Caldwell-Pope surely had longer term offers on the table. To eschew those to sign with the Lakers for one year seems almost unfathomable to me. Credit to the Lakers’ front office of Magic and Pelinka for getting this done. They got a young FA, about to enter his prime, to sign in LA for a single season. Yes, the dollar amount is high, but that seems irrelevant to me at this stage. Again, he could have made much more on a longer deal.

As for fit, KCP instantly slides into a thin backcourt at SG and can be slotted between Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram rather seamlessly. He’s a good (not great, but good) shooter from distance, hitting 35% of his 3’s — but he did so on nearly 6 attempts per game. That volume from distance is what intrigues me more than his percentage as it shows me a player who is comfortable taking the long ball and someone who, because of that volume, teams will defend him more seriously out on the arc.

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The Alex Caruso game.

If you logged on to twitter at any point before the Lakers hit the hardwood to face off against the Kings, but after it was reported that Lonzo Ball would sit out due to a sore groin, you might have seen that thrown out there in part jest. I mean, Caruso is a fine player who showed some good ability playing for OKC’s G-League affiliate last year, but I think even his biggest believers wouldn’t have thought this was coming.

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What you find out at NBA summer league is almost always dependent on what it is you’re looking for. It is the nature of this environment where, coming off the heels of the draft, most people have preconceived notions about who or what a prospect is and then go about confirming those when seeing them on the Thomas and Mack hardwood.

Go back a couple of years. You think D’Angelo Russell is going to be a bust? Well, that’s confirmed via a poor shooting night and the lack of drives and finishes at the rim. You think Jahlil Okafor is going to be a stud big man? Well, that’s confirmed with him beasting dudes in the post and showing some deft face up moves from 18 feet an in. Even if those things aren’t really true in the aggregate, if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s pretty easy to get there through some surface observations.

Thing is, finding what you’re looking for isn’t the point of summer league. In fact, it’s hard to really decipher what the point is at all.

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In our latest episode of the Laker Film Room podcast, Pete and I talk about the Lakers loss to the Celtics and some of the takeaways. We dove deep into Lonzo Ball’s triple-double, Kyle Kuzma’s offensive explosion, what we liked about Josh Hart’s improved performance from game one, and also touched on Ivica Zubac’s good start and what led to him not really finishing strong.

Short episode today, but I enjoyed this one. Click through to listen to the entire thing.

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While I was looking forward to a couple of former Dukies doing battle tonight, Brandon Ingram being ruled out for the rest of summer league means that we won’t get to see him match up with Jayson Tatum — another smooth scoring SF who went number 3 overall in last month’s draft.

Instead, then, we’ll get to see how Tatum and last year’s #3 overall pick, Jaylen Brown, go up against Lonzo Ball. Ball will look to bounce back from a bad shooting night on Friday where he want 2-15 from the field for 5 points. Ball’s shooting distracted from some of the other good things he did offensively, where he ran the offense well, showed very good floor awareness, and mostly made good shot/pass decisions.

It will be a learning process for Ball, a 19 year old who has a unique approach to playing PG in comparison to what is widely viewed as the standard for lead guards in today’s NBA. How Ball adjusts to those norms and how he beats them back with his own game is one of the more intriguing storylines of every contest he appears in. It’s certainly something I’ll be watching for over the course of the summer as he gets more comfortable with the pace of NBA basketball.

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