The Lakers are a team in transition, attempting to rebuild — somewhat on the fly — to try and reclaim their status as a top tiered organization that competes for championships. After two very down years, there is some optimism they have taken some positive steps in the right direction with the hope the on court product will reflect that via an improved record and more competitive play.

In reconstructing the roster, the Lakers have done some purposeful acquisition of specific player types. Yes, they tried to fill positional holes in trading for Roy Hibbert and by adding Brandon Bass and Lou Williams in free agency. But what these players bring in skill is also replicated in what they can provide a locker room via good attitudes and a willingness to help the youngsters on the roster.

That latter piece is important and should not be discounted. Go back through the interview archives of nearly every great player and you will find they had one or more key veterans influence their development via mentoring. Kobe talks about Byron Scott. Kevin Garnett talks about Sam Mitchell. The other day, on NBA TV, I heard Reggie Miller talking about how John Long played this role for him when he was a rookie with the Pacers. The list (surely) goes on and on.

Getting back to the Lakers, then, it’s easy to imagine this has played a role in some of their acquisitions. We often talk about Kobe as a mentor, but he’s also an iconic player and that can complicate things. Young players inherently look up to a player of his stature, so his words do carry extra weight. However, a player like Kobe also brings with him a burden of high expectations which can be difficult to live up to. I want young players learning the game from Kobe, but it’s also often players of a lesser stature who have traveled a different path through a long career whose voices lend a different perspective which has great value.

This brings me back to players like Williams and Bass. These players have carved out long careers — both are 10 year veterans — mostly as role players who didn’t always have the security of knowing they’d stick in the league. Both were 2nd round draft picks who had to scrap to find a role and then continue to perform at a high level to remain rotation players. Having these types of players share their tricks of the trade and impart their knowledge onto young players can have as much (if not more) a lasting impact than when a HOF player teaches you the ropes.

In saying that, however, one has to wonder if there’s a balance that needs to be struck. Said another way, is there a point when you have enough of these mentor-type players? And when a front office is putting together a roster, how much weight should they place on a player’s ability to serve in this role versus what he might provide on the court?

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Lou Williams is a player whose role is about as well-defined as any on the Lakers’ roster. He will come off the bench with a score first mentality, look to create shots and if the shot isn’t there then, well, he’ll probably throw one up anyway. This is the way of a “chucker” and this, in a vacuum, is what Lou Williams has proven to be over the course of his nine-year career. However, despite its negative connotation, the “chucker” moniker is one Williams embraces and it has earned him other titles such as “2015 Sixth Man of the Year” in the process.

Whether creating space for a one-hop pull-up, taking his defender off the dribble, or leading and finishing on the fast break, Williams plays the game with flair. His nifty crossover, stalling hesitation move, and quick first step combined with a proven scoring ability should quickly make him a favorite among Lakers fans who haven’t seen a true “spark” off the bench since D’Antoni got his hands on Nick Young.

For all of the talent he offers as a playmaker, though, where Williams may need to find his niche with this Lakers team is off the ball.

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Earlier today we told you about how, after the Lakers announced some front office promotions, Mitch Kupchak went on the record with Sam Amick from USA Today to discuss the moves. Well, Amick also brings us updates from Kupchak on the team’s interest in Metta World Peace:

“We’ve got a couple more weeks (until training camp). Our roster’s not complete. And we’ll just take it from there. Nothing’s imminent in terms of a signing anytime soon, but it’s hard not to watch a guy when he’s in your gym every day going up and down the court, working with young guys, playing hard. Part of me says he can still play, so I don’t know where we’re going to end up on it. But that’s kind of where it is.”

For what it’s worth, Kupchak isn’t the only front office decision maker in town who has positive things to say about MWP. In a recent interview with Colin Cowherd, Clippers head coach and president echoed sentiments of Metta’s good form:

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Lakers’ training camps opens on September 29th in Hawaii. We already know Jordan Clarkson will be there after it was determined he would not play for the Philippines at the FIBA Asia Championships which overlapped with the start of camp. We also know the names of the 16 other Lakers who will be there with Clarkson.

What we do not know, however, is what the rest of the camp invite list will look like. Per Brad Turner of the LA Times, however, we do know they are looking to add more players:

Based on recent reports, it would seem Metta World Peace might be one of those players. Another, if you take his word for it, might be Robert Upshaw. If the Lakers add another player to the camp roster, I’d imagine it would not be a player of consequence as they’re likely already going to have some difficult decisions to make on who to cut and who to keep on the opening night roster. As we’ve discussed, the training camp battles will be worth the price of admission to camp (if, you know, they actually sold tickets to camp).

Going into camp, my gut tells me the Lakers would still be open to exploring trades in order to try and find the right mix of veterans who can help on the court (and off) and young players who they think could be a part of the future. One thing to remember, though, is that the Lakers can assign as many as three players who are cut from their training camp as “affiliate players” to their D-League team.

Based on that, it would not surprise me if Jonathan Holmes, Michael Frazier, and Robert Upshaw (should he come to camp) end up getting cut and being those affiliate players who end up on the D-Fenders. They are the kind of guys who fit the profile of players who need seasoning to refine their games and figure out what type of players they would be at the NBA level.

In any event, we’re less than three weeks away until the start of camp. Expect the Lakers to add a few more guys to the list of invites to Hawaii.

(h/t to Pro Basketball Talk)

The Lakers announced several front office promotions on Friday, officially naming Ryan West Director of Player Personnel, Jesse Buss Assistant General Manager/Director of Scouting, and Clay Moser Assistant Coach/Director of Basketball Strategy.

We originally touched on the West promotion in this space, so this is not necessarily new news. Investing in West, in my opinion, is a smart move as he brings both youth and experience to the table and is, seemingly, well regarded around the league.

The Moser move was also expected, as reported by Bill Oram back in July. From Oram’s report:

Assistant coach and advance scout Clay Moser is expected to transition from the bench to the front office in a sort of liaison position, which previously did not exist within the organization. A team spokesman confirmed Monday that the move is in the works.

The responsibilities of the role have been among those heaped upon assistant coach Mark Madsen. The plan with Moser, however, is to facilitate a pipeline of ideas with a basketball person in the front office.

Having Moser in place to help bridge the gap between the analytics staff and the coaches is an investment worth making — should it translate to actual implementation and/or affect strategy by the coaches. I have my doubts Byron Scott will suddenly turn around 180 degrees on his views towards the usefulness of analytics (read the full Oram piece above for more background), but it’s worth a shot.

The Jesse Buss promotion is the only other front office change that wasn’t on the radar before. He’s had “Assistant GM” added to his title (he was already the Scouting Director), but it’s unclear if his duties are actually changing. The Lakers already have an Assistant GM in place — Glenn Carraro was appointed to that role in 2012. This isn’t to minimize the impact of Buss’ promotion, rather it’s meant to provide more context and background.

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As part of a new series here at Forum Blue & Gold, we’re examining a single skill to keep an eye on with players this season. It could be their best quality or an aspect of their game that, if successful, will help the most. The two sound similar, but aren’t exactly the same. For this part of the series, I’m looking at D’Angelo Russell’s pull-up jumper.

D’Angelo Russell’s greatest talent is arguably his passing. He sees the court insanely well and can pull off passing angles few would even consider. That being said, whether or not Russell can develop a consistent shot to keep defenses honest will go a long way in opening up those passing lanes.

To a certain extent I liken it to how Kobe Bryant would guard Rajon Rondo in those classic match ups and playoff series from 2008-10. When guards would defend Rondo with more standard tendencies (going over the top of screens, sticking to his hip, etc.) Rondo would regularly torch them. So, Phil Jackson employed Kobe as more of a general shadow, simply staying in front and daring Rondo to shoot. The strategy changed what the Celtics were trying to do, and was the best way to manage such a supremely talented ball-handler. The video below is great at displaying this technique.

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On Tuesday we shared Matt Moore’s piece on the awkward dynamic between coach Byron Scott and the team’s more modernly constructed roster. Today, we double up on the folks over at CBS, starting with a Lakers Offseason Report provided by Zach Harper, where he attempts to answer a few of the team’s more pressing questions for this coming season, here’s a bit:

On this summer’s roster moves:

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What once seemed like a late August part fun rumor, part feel good story which wasn’t likely to happen, now seems to have more legs. Could it be the Lakers may really sign Metta World Peace? According to Adrian Wojnarowski, they are getting closer:

As I noted when I wrote about the initial reports of the Lakers’ interest in Metta, I did not think he was a particularly good fit. From a roster construction and position crunch standpoint, his addition would seem to be redundant. However, that perspective was shaped mostly by what Ron might provide on the court. Eric Pincus of the LA Times has a different perspective:

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