Monthly Archive for July, 2009

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Lakers, Clippers to play in Vegas

Adam MorrisonIt’s not exactly the battle for Los Angeles hoops or anything, but the respective Summer League teams for the Lakers and Clippers are set to face off at 5:30 p.m. in Las Vegas.

The Lakers won their first two games against Cleveland (88-82) and Toronto (85-84), while the Clippers will be playing for the first time.

The purple and gold feature Adam Morrison – who dropped 24 on the Raptors and 22 on the Cavs – and second round pick Chinemelu Elonu, while the Clippers will get their first look at No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin. The Clips also have a potential Summer League MVP candidate in second-year guard Eric Gordon, not to mention big, young center DeAndre Jordan.

You can watch along by signing up for the NBA’s Broadband feed by CLICKING HERE.

Furthermore, Lakers.com will be heading to Las Vegas to take in L.A.’s final two games in person, with coverage focused on the summer development of Adam Morrison. You can follow that coverage on the home site, here on the basketblog and on Twitter.

Lakers Win Again, Start 2-0 in Vegas

Chinemelu ElonuAdam Morrison’s 22 points paced L.A. in its second Summer League win in as many tries as the Lakers defeated Cleveland 88-82 on Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.

A day after scoring 24 points against Toronto, Morrison converted 8-of-16 field goals – including 4-of-6 from downtown – and pitched in four rebounds with three assists against the Cavs.

Lakers second round pick Chinemelu Elonu (pictured) used his 23 minutes of burn to put up nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, plus five boards and two blocks, a day after he played just 14 minutes.

It was a relatively easy win for the Lakers, who trailed just once early in the first quarter before steadily pushing the lead to as many as 14 in the fourth quarter.

“I thought everyone played hard, we were able to play really physical I thought we did a great job,” said Lakers Summer League Head Coach Chucky Brown to NBA.com. “We need to sharpen up our defense a little bit more and I think we’ll be alright.”

L.A. outshot the Cavs 50.8 to 42.6 percent, and made seven three-pointers to help cover a poor effort from the free throw line (15-of-27, 55.6 percent). The Lakers also held a seven-rebound edge (39-32) and had four players in double figures led by Morrison.

The Lakers’ Vegas crew has Sunday off before a Monday evening tilt with Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and the L.A. Clippers, set to tip at 8:30 p.m.

If you’re interested in watching the game, you can sign up for NBA SUMMER LEAGUE BROADBAND.

Morrison Leads Lakers to Summer League Win

Adam MorrisonAdam Morrison scored 24 points – including the hit the game-clinching free throws – to lead the Lakers to a come-from-behind 85-84 win over Toronto to open the 2009 Summer League in Las Vegas.

Morrison converted 9-of-17 shots (52.9 percent) from the field and made all five of his free throws, adding five rebounds and three assists to the effort. He made 1-of-3 three-pointers, grabbed three of his boards on the offensive glass and added two blocked shots to his effort as L.A. made up a nine-point halftime deficit.

The former No. 3 overall draft pick in 2006 came to the Lakers via trade from Charlotte in early February and played minimally during L.A.’s title run, making Summer League important for him personally even though he’s signed through the 2009-10 season.

In other news, Lakers second round draft pick Chinemelu Elonu (59 overall) scored two points with three boards and a steal while taking just one shot in 14 minutes in the win, while NC State product Ben McCauley matched Morrison’s 24 points and added a game-high 14 rebounds.

L.A.’s next game is at 3 p.m. on Saturday against Cleveland; you can see by ordering the NBA’s Summer League Broadband package by clicking HERE.

Mitch Kupchak Podcast on Brown, + Artest/Odom

Shannon Brown - Ron ArtestWe sat down with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak on Thursday afternoon primarily to discuss the signing of Shannon Brown, and also to touch on the Ron Artest deal … plus the team’s continued hope to retain the services of Lamar Odom.

Clearly, Kupchak is still pretty busy.

He detailed what the Lakers like about Brown’s game, explained why the 23-year-old was acquired in the first place, and opined on why signing Artest put the team in a better position to ink Brown and Odom. Kupchak also said that while L.A. would like to expedite the Lamar talks, the organization has “way too much” respect for the versatile swingman to rush the process: “We’re hopeful that a day goes by, two days or maybe the weekend and we’ll have more clarity,” he concluded.

You can listen to the audio (9:53) by clicking below:

Ron Artest: By The Numbers

Ron Artest - Kobe BryantTo take a closer look at the newest Laker a day after his introductory press conference, we broke down some numbers from the career of Ron Artest:

1
Defensive Player of the Year honor, which came in 2004 when Artest played for the Indiana Pacers. He credits former Pacers center Jermaine O’Neal’s shot blocking for allowing him to be more aggressive on the perimeter, and said he looks forward to playing with L.A.’s twin seven footers for similar reasons.

3
Players in NBA history to post career averages of 16+ points, 5+ rebounds, 3+ assists and 2+ steals. The list: Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler and Artest. The major difference in numbers between the three is scoring, as Jordan averaged 30.1 points, Drexler 20.4 and Artest 16.1.

4
NBA All-Defensive Teams for Artest, who twice made both the First Team (2004, 2006) and Second Team (2003, 2009).

5
Times among the league’s top five in steals per game: 2nd in 2001-02; 2nd in 02-03; 3rd in 03-04; T-2nd in 06-07; T-2nd 07-08.

5
Postseason appearances.

8
Career high for steals in a game, which Artest has accomplished four separate times. His high in 2008-09 came against the Lakers on Mar. 11, when he totaled six thefts.

16
Pick in the 1999 NBA draft. Some players taken ahead of Artest were very good: Elton Brand (1); Baron Davis (3); Lamar Odom (4); Richard Hamilton (7); Andre Miller (8); Shawn Marion (9); and Jason Terry (10). Some were not: Jonathan Bender (5); Alex Redojevic (12); Trajan Langdon (11); William Avery (14) and Frederick Weis (15). Coming after Artest were James Posey (18), Devean George (23) and Andrei Kirilenko (24).

22
Times Ron-Ron has scored 30 or more points in a game.

33
Career double-doubles.

39
Artest’s career-high scoring output (two times).

42.2
Career field goal percentage for the one-time All Star.

50
Total games missed by Artest in the last three seasons; he played in 69 of Houston’s 82 last season.

74.8
Free throw percentage from Artest in 2008-09. He’s a career 72.3 percent shooter from the stripe and has never shot higher than 75 percent (2000-01).

105
Steals in his 69 games (1.52 per game), which led the Rockets and was good for 12th in the league, just above Kobe Bryant’s 1.46 steals.

153
Three-point field goals made by Artest for Houston last season, a single-season career high. He attempted 383 triples, also a career high, converting at a 39.9 percent rate. That would have led the Lakers, who were paced by Derek Fisher’s 39.7 percent success rate in the regular season.

This Work of Artest Will Be Worth Framing

Ron Artest - Mitch KupchakTalent is king in the NBA, so you’d better have size and athleticism … or you’re winning less than the Washington Senators.

Yet talent alone doesn’t win championships, so add some intangibles such as an indefatigable work ethic, a refuse-to-die toughness and a personality quirk that keeps opponents guessing (if not fearful).

Combine a 6-7, 260-pound frame replete with explosive muscles and the listed traits, and you have a 12-year NBA career featuring averages of 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.1 steals, plus an All-Star appearance, numerous All-Defensive Teams and even a Defensive Player of the Year award.

You have Ron Artest, whom the Lakers acquired via free agency from a Houston squad just weeks removed from giving L.A. its toughest playoff test (4-3).

Now, if talent and intangibles seem already evident in Artest, it may be his versatility that ends up most benefiting an already-loaded Lakers team.

Here’s a closer look:

(To read the full article, head over to Lakers.com by CLICKING HERE and scrolling to the right.)

Lakers Sign Artest, Brown: Links

For all the details on L.A.’s signing of free agent Ron Artest, CLICK HERE.

The page includes the official press release, an article breaking down the addition of Artest to the NBA Champions and a photo gallery of the small forward through the years.

You can also CLICK HERE to read the press release regarding Shannon Brown’s agreement with the Lakers.

NBA Salary Cap Set At $57.7 Million for 2009-10

From the NBA:

NEW YORK, July 7, 2009 -­ The National Basketball Association today
announced that the Salary Cap for the 2009-10 season will be $57.7 million.
The tax level for the 2009-10 season has been set at $69.92 million. Any
team whose team salary exceeds that figure will pay a $1 tax for each $1 by
which it exceeds $69.92 million.

The 2008-09 Salary Cap was $58.68 million and the tax level was $71.15
million. Although league-wide revenue increased 2.5% this past season, the
decrease in the Salary Cap and tax level for the 2009-10 season is the
result of the formula used to set the Cap and tax under the terms of the
collective bargaining agreement.

The new Salary Cap and tax level go into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on
Wednesday, July 8, when the league¹s ³moratorium period² ends and teams can
begin signing free agents and making trades.

The mid-level exception is $5.854 million for the 2009-10 season and the
minimum team salary, which is set at 75% of the Salary Cap, is $43.275
million.

Gasol to Play for Spain

Pau GasolAccording to the Associated Press, Lakers big man Pau Gasol will represent his home country of Spain in this summer’s European Basketball Championship.

“The season went really well for me and now I want to defend our country,” Gasol said. “We’re really hopeful about the team we have, but we can’t go there with a mentality that we’ll be playing the final just because we’re really good.”

Spain is considered one of the favorites after settling for the silver medal in last summer’s Beijing Olympics. This will be Gasol’s fourth straight offseason competing on the international stage; snagging silver in the 2007 Euro Championship and gold in the 2006 FIBA World Championship, where he was also named tournament MVP.

The European Basketball Championship tournament is scheduled for September 7-20 in Poland.

Mitch Kupchak Statement on Ron Artest

Kobe - Ron ArtestA statement released on Thursday evening from Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak:

We have entered into discussions with Ron Artest and it is our intention to sign him to a contract at the conclusion of the moratorium period.

The free agency moratorium period started on July 1, when free agents were allowed to speak to NBA teams, and concludes on July 7, setting July 8 as the target date for the potential, official agreement between the Lakers and Artest.