Monthly Archive for July, 2010

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Fisher’s Deal Is Done

The Lakers officially signed point guard Derek Fisher to a multi-year contract early Tuesday evening after the two sides agreed to terms on Monday afternoon.

Team spokesman John Black confirmed the signing; per team policy, the details of Fisher’s contract were not disclosed.

Fisher enters his 12th season with the Lakers, and is in pursuit of his sixth championship.

L.A.’s 2nd Rounders Atop Rookie Ladder

LAKERS SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE61019324Each summer, NBA.com compiles a “Rookie Ladder” that ranks the website’s top 10 rookies in the Las Vegas Summer League.

The list is generally filled with lottery picks and a few sleepers, but after most teams have played two or three games, Lakers second round picks Devin Ebanks (43 overall) and Derrick Caracter (58) can find themselves atop the ladder, right there with top picks John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

NBA.com’s ROOKIE LADDER RANKINGS (draft position)
1) Derrick Caracter, Lakers (58)
2) John Wall, Wizards (1)
3) Devin Ebanks, Lakers (43)
4) Gani Lawal, Suns (46)
5) DeMarcus Cousins, Kings (5)
6) Eric Bledsoe, Clippers (18)
7) Magnum Rolle, Pacers (51)
8) Ed Davis, Raptors (13)
9) Landry Fields, Knicks (39)
10) Matt Janning, Suns (undrafted)

TO WATCH SUMMER LEAGUE GAMES, CLICK HERE

Caracter and Ebanks On Display

LAKERS SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE
61032592No Lakers news was going to push Derek Fisher’s contract agreement to stay with the team, announced on Monday afternoon, off the franchise marquee.

But over in Las Vegas, the organization’s two second round draft picks – Derrick Caracter (No. 58) and Devin Ebanks (No. 43) – continued to outplay their draft positions as they respectively took steps towards making the senior squad in training camp.

“That’s the goal,” said Caracter after posting his third consecutive double-double in a loss to the Knicks. “But right now I’m just trying to learn the offense and get better.”

Caracter started slowly in the Triangle O taught by summer league head coach Chuck Person and assistant Rasheed Hazzard, making only 3-of-9 first half shots while struggling with the length of New York’s Jerome Jordan and Eric Boateng. But in the second half, Caracter used counter moves and made all four of his attempts to finish with 16 points, alongside 10 boards (six offensive).

61032342When the Lakers drafted Caracter out of UTEP, GM Mitch Kupchak was pleased that he remained on the board so late, and said he liked Caracter’s ability to both rebound and score the ball. We’ve seen why with averages of 17.7 points and 10.7 rebounds through three games.

Kupchak also cited Caracter’s need to continue getting in better shape, as he had during his final year of college. Through three games, conditioning hasn’t appeared a problem at all for Caracter, who was energetic once again, as witnessed by the eight personal fouls he committed and those six offensive boards.

Energy was also a strength for Ebanks, who played all but 47 seconds of the game, but struggled with his shot in making only 2-of-13 attempts for seven points.

The West Virginia product came into the game amongst the summer league scoring leaders after averaging 22.5 points in L.A.’s first two games, but he wasn’t particularly concerned about his field goal struggles after the game.

“I’m just trying to work hard and do what the coaches tell me to do,” he said. “If my shot’s not fouling, I have to contribute in other ways.”

Ebanks was solid defensively, grabbed five rebounds and got up and down in transition, helping the Lakers take a momentary lead late in the third quarter before New York used a 9-0 run to seal the game.

He’ll have his chance to bounce back offensively in Tuesday’s game against Sacramento, when Caracter goes for his fourth straight double-double against Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins.

TO WATCH, CLICK HERE

Additional Notes and Numbers:
- Courtney Sims added 11 points and five rebounds for L.A., joining Caracter (16 points) and D.J. Strawberry (12) in double figures.
- Gerald Green scored five quick points in the third quarter to cut into what was once a 17-point Knicks lead, but the former dunk champ played only 10 minutes and turned the ball over three times. Turnovers were a problem for the whole team, who totaled 22 giveaways, the main culprit being Caracter (eight).
- L.A. shot a putrid 33 percent from the field, to New York’s 45 percent, but made 17-of-22 free throws (77.3 percent).

Fisher’s Back

60827310Lakers guard Derek Fisher will remain in Los Angeles in pursuit of his sixth individual championship and the team’s third straight.

Fisher made a statement on his website announcing his return on Monday afternoon, which Lakers spokesman John Black confirmed shortly thereafter.

Black said that an agreement was in place, though the deal has yet to be signed.

Fisher cited his personal relationship with Kobe Bryant in particular in his statement:

At the end of the day, there’s one person I could not turn away from. Kobe Bryant asked me to stay but supported whatever decision I made. He and I have played together for 11 seasons, came into the league together as kids, and has been loyal to me even when others had doubts. We have won five championships together.

I have decided to continue with Kobe, continue with our teammates and the fans of Los Angeles. While this may not be the most lucrative contract I’ve been offered this off season, it is the most valuable. I am confident I will continue to lead this team on and off the court. Let the hunt for six begin…

Per team policy, the terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Lakers Fall to 0-2 in Summer League

LAKERS SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE

The Lakers lost their second straight game to open the Las Vegas Summer League as Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets rode a late run to a 92-74 victory.

Yet as was the case in L.A.’s first game, second round picks Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter showed why Mitch Kupchak and Co. drafted them, Ebanks posting a game-high 24 points and Caracter contributing his second straight double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

L.A. cut Denver’s lead to just four late in the second quarter, as Ebanks and Caracter combined for 18 points in the period, but couldn’t lead the Lakers back in the second half.

Ebanks, known more in his two years at West Virginia as a defensive player, showcased his offense for the second straight game, bringing his average to 22.5 points, and he added three steals on defense.

Caracter had worked his way to a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in the first game, and his 17-and-12 effort brought his 2-game averages to 18.5 points and 11 boards.

On the injury front, forward Rob Kurz left the game in the second to receive stitches in his head and did not return, while Nuggets center Brian Butch suffered a knee injury.

Next up for the Lakers is a Monday afternoon contest against New York.

We’ll be there in Vegas to cover you.

TO WATCH, CLICK HERE

Lakers Drop Summer League Opener

LAKERS SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE

Despite leading by as many as 13 points early in the second half, the Lakers summer league squad dropped an 89-84 victory to Detroit on Friday evening in the team’s first game in Las Vegas.

The Lakers did, however, get solid contributions from both of their second round draft picks, Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter.

Ebanks scored 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting with two steals, two assists and two rebounds, while Caracter added 20 points of his own (9-of-14) with 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.

L.A. also got 14 points from D.J. Strawberry, 11 assists from Ibrahim Jaaber and 11 points with seven boards from Rob Kurz, but couldn’t hand onto a nine-point lead (84-75) late in the fourth due to a 13-0 Pistons’ run to close the game.

The Lakers are back at it on Saturday, when they play the Denver Nuggets (1-0) at 3 p.m.

TO WATCH, CLICK HERE

Summer League Preview

Lakers.com heads to Las Vegas on Monday to check out the latest summer league squad in person, but until then, here’s a quick look at the players we’ll be watching:

DEVIN EBANKS
6-9, 210-pound forward; West Virginia, 2010 43rd draft pick

- Ebanks was named to the All-Big East Third Team as a sophomore after making the Big East All-Rookie and All-Tournament teams as a freshman. He developed a reputation as a defensive stopper on the wing, and played some of his best basketball in the NCAA Tournament while helping West Virginia to the Final Four. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he could foresee Ebanks playing a backup forward role. To read more, CLICK HERE.

DERRICK CARACTER
6-9, 275-pound center/forward; Texas El Paso, 2010 58th draft pick

- Caracter was named to the All-Conference USA Second Team after averaging 14 points and eight rebounds as a junior, and ranked 16th in the country in field goal percentage (56.7 percent). For the BasketBlog report on draft night, click here.

GERALD GREEN
6-8, 200-pound guard/forward; Gulf Shores Academy (Texas), 18th pick of the 2005 Draft, five year pro

- Green won the 2007 Dunk Contest with a ridiculous display of athleticism, and has a soft jump shot, but was never able to stick with a team during a five-year run that included stints in Boston, Minnesota, Houston and Dallas. He’s certainly going to be fun to watch at summer league as he tries to earn another roster spot in the league.

D.J. STRAWBERRY
6-5, 199-pound guard; Maryland, third year pro

- The son of baseball player Darryl Strawberry was taken by Phoenix with the 57th pick of the 2007 Draft, and sent down to the D-League to play with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He’s since been a basketball nomad, with stints in Houston, Italy and Reno (D-League), after a solid career a new Laker Steve Blake’s alma mater.

ROB KURZ
6-9, 230-pound forward; Notre Dame, second year pro

- Kurz spent his first year in the NBA with Golden State, appearing in 40 games during L.A.’s title-winning 2008-09, and posting decent numbers when he received minutes. In fact, both times he played at least 30 minutes, he scored at least 20 points. Kurz was very good in the D-League, averaging nearly 18 points with 10 boards per game as a Fort Wayne Mad Ant, though he saw no NBA action with Cleveland or Chicago.

BEN MCCAULEY
6-9, 237-pound forward; NC State, rookie

- Outlook: McCauley was solid for L.A.’s 2009 summer league squad, putting up nearly 12 points and eight rebounds per game, though he has yet to appear on an NBA court. The alum of Josh Powell’s school played his ball in France last year.

IBRAHIM JAABER
6-2, 170-pound guard; Pennsylvania, rookie

Outlook: Jaaber wasn’t drafted after amassing consecutive Ivy League player of the year honors in 2007 and 2008. He competed for the Piston’s summer league squad, and has had stints abroad in Italy, Belgium and Greece, plus a cool name.

FRANK ROBINSON
6-4, 193-pound guard; Cal State Fullerton, first year pro

- You may know Robinson from down the road at Cal State Fullerton, or from L.A.’s D-Fenders last season. The Lakers summer league coaches certainly know his game.

DREW NAYMICK
6-11, 235-pound center; Michigan State, second year pro

- Naymick wasn’t drafted after finishing his Spartan career as the school’s all-time leading shot blocker (134), and spent time playing in both Spain and Poland last season. At State, he was also a recipient of MSU’s Unsung Player Award and tri-recipient of the Scholar-Athlete Award.

TYLER SANBORN
6-10, 270-pound center; Guilford College (North Carolina), rookie

- The big center tore up Division III last seaon, averaging nearly 20 points with 14 rebounds and two blocks per game, en route to D3 player of the year honors. We’ll see what he can do against some better competition.

COURTNEY SIMS
6-11, 245-pound center; Michigan, third year pro

Outlook: Sims averaged around 10 points and five boards in a four-year career at Michigan but was not drafted. He spent some time in the NBA with Indiana (where he signed as an undrafted free agent), New York and Phoenix not to mention several D-League teams.

Has the West Been Weakened?

51546479In the last week, the Western Conference lost free agent big men Amare Stoudemire (from PHO to NYK) and Carlos Boozer (UTA to CHI), and saw Chris Bosh (TOR to MIA), Dwyane Wade (MIA) and (check anywhere at 6:00 Eastern to confirm) LeBron James (?) stay in the East.

In fact, nearly every major move in free agency has had a far greater impact on the right than the left Coast.

Other than a few players re-signing with their current teams, (see: Dirk Nowitzki/Brendan Haywood in Dallas, Rudy Gay in Memphis and Channing Frye in Phoenix), it’s been mostly quiet on the Western front.

Among the only actual free agent additions out West include L.A.’s signing of point guard Steve Blake and the presence of Hakim Warrick in Phoenix.

60787695As such, while the Lakers return their core players (including Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest), hope to re-sign Derek Fisher and have added Blake, has their road to winning the West for a fourth straight season gotten any more difficult?

Let’s take a snap shot:

The Lakers’ opponent in the Western Conference Finals, Phoenix, brings back Steve Nash and most of his crew, and while re-signing Frye and adding of Warrick could help, losing Stoudemire is a big blow.

L.A.’s second round opponent, Utah, lost Boozer to the Bulls, leaving the starting power forward slot for the capable Paul Millsap. That could hurt weaken Utah’s bench, but the Jazz did add No. 9 overall pick Gordon Hayward out of Butler.

The West’s best young team, Oklahoma City, locked up Kevin Durant for the foreseeable future and traded for the rights to rookie center Cole Aldrich out of Kansas, and promises to be a threat.

The veteran teams – Denver, Dallas and San Antonio – remain almost fully intact (S.A.’s Richard Jefferson opted out of his deal and is a free agent), and can’t be counted out.

Three teams expect key injured big men back. Houston gets Yao Ming, Portland returns Greg Oden, and the Clippers debut last year’s No. 1 pick Blake Griffin. The Hornets, meanwhile, look forward to a full season of oft-injured-last-year Chris Paul.

Memphis gets Gay back, and has some nice talent (Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, O.J. Mayo) now joined by No. 12 pick Xavier Henry.

Finally come the teams full of young talent but likely far away from contending: Golden State (traded Maggette to Milwaukee, but boast Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry); Sacramento (building around R.O.Y. Tyreke Evans and No. 5 pick DeMarcus Cousins); and Minnesota (No. 4 pick Wesley Johnson, rights to Ricky Rubio, Love/Jefferson).

And of course, things could change with a Western team’s potential acquisition of a player like David Lee, formerly of the Knicks, and still unsigned.

But what does it all mean to the Lakers?

Perhaps not much at all.

For the third straight season, it’s very clear that the path to the NBA Finals goes directly through Los Angeles.

Podcast: Breaking Down Steve Blake

60157224If the announcement that Phil Jackson agreed to return as the Lakers coach in pursuit of his fourth three-peat was the team’s biggest offseason news, up next came the signing of free agent point guard Steve Blake, which the team stated on Thursday.

Blake played the final 29 games of the 2009-10 campaign across town with the Clippers after nearly three seasons in Portland, averaging 6.8 points and 6.1 assists, while turning in his best performance of the season with a triple-double finale against the Lakers.

On April 14, the 6-3 guard made 8-of-12 field goals (4-of-6 threes) for 23 points, dished 11 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds with two steals in a 107-91 win over the Purple and Gold in a game that now seems like an audition.

To reflect on that game and Blake’s tenure with the Clippers while keeping an eye towards how he might fit in with the Lakers, we called up Clippers play-by-play man Brian Sieman, who watched Blake up close and personal from February through April.

We recorded the podcast on Tuesday – thus the “we have nothing official until July 8″ you’ll here in the introduction. To listen, click play below:

NBA Sets Salary Cap

The NBA released the following information on Wednesday afternoon, highlighted by the news that the Salary Cap for the 2010-11 season is set at $58.044 million.

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak called that amount “Higher than we anticipated.”

Here’s the release:

NEW YORK, July 7, 2010 – The National Basketball Association today
announced that the Salary Cap for the 2010-11 season will be $58.044
million. The tax level for the 2010-11 season has been set at $70.307
million. Any team whose team salary exceeds that figure will pay a $1 tax
for each $1 by which it exceeds $70.307 million.

The 2009-10 Salary Cap was $57.70 million and the tax level was $69.92
million.

The new Salary Cap and tax level go into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on
Thursday, July 8, when the league’s “moratorium period” ends and teams can
begin signing free agents and making trades.

The mid-level exception is $5.765 million for the 2010-11 season and the
minimum team salary, which is set at 75% of the Salary Cap, is $43.533
million.