Nick Young signs deal with Lakers

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UPDATE 7:41 pm: The Lakers have confirmed that the deal is done. Here is the statement from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak:

“At 6’7,” Nick’s size, ability to create his own shot and athleticism make him a versatile player who will give our lineup multiple looks on the floor. He’s an exciting player, and we’re excited to have him on our roster.”

5:35 pm: Los Angeles is bringing the 818 to Staples Center.

First out of the San Fernando Valley it was the signing of Taft High’s own Jordan Farmar, returning the popular Laker (and UCLA Bruin) to the Los Angeles team where he started his career.

Now the Lakers have signed Cleveland High’s and USC Trojan Nick Young to a deal, his agent Mark Bartelstein told Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a league minimum deal (that is all the Lakers could offer). It is likely a one-year contract because the Lakers want to keep their cap space and Young will feel after a good season he could earn more on the open market.

The fact that Young – a pure scorer who averaged 10.6 points a game last season in Philadelphia but shot just 41.3 percent — could only get the league minimum speaks to how the free agent market has changed with the new CBA. Young is the kind of guy who used to get overpaid by some team desperate for scoring, but now he has trouble finding a home.

This is a great landing spot for him and a good value pick up for the Lakers. He will officially be Kobe Bryant’s backup, but if Bryant has to miss the start of the season as he tries to recover from his Achilles tendon, Young will get those starts. Either way the Lakers will back off on Kobe’s minutes and a lot of those will go to Young.

Young is a good but not great spot up shooter (42 percent last season according to Synergy Sports), is strong in isolation (he averaged 1.04 points per possession) and works well off the ball. He defends well in isolation but can struggle with team defense at times.

This is a smart move by the Lakers, who may not be all that good next season but they should be interesting.

Watch Michael Jordan’s best highlight from each of his playoff runs (video)

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I’ve become a sucker for this highlight format.

Jazz deny rumored promise to draft D.J. Wilson

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Michigan forward D.J. Wilson said he’d stay in the draft only if he’d go in the first round. Yet, despite not doing any on-court work at the combine, the borderline first-rounder remained in the draft beyond the withdrawal deadline.

What gives?

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune:

NBA teams sometimes promise to draft a player. They never reveal that before the draft. So, Utah’s denial doesn’t mean much – even if it’s true.

The Jazz were the last team to give Wilson a full work out before he injured himself in a Spurs workout. So, this rumor could be based on circumstantial evidence rather than leak of a Utah guarantee.

Wilson would make sense for the Jazz, who could see their payroll bloat if they re-sign Gordon Hayward and George Hill (and maybe even Joe Ingles). They could move Derrick Favors, an interior who doesn’t exactly fit with Rudy Gobert. Wilson would give Utah another option with Trey Lyles as developing stretch fours behind Boris Diaw. (Utah could even move Diaw and count on Lyles/Wilson to emerge sooner than later.)

Watch LeBron James’ top highlight from each of his postseason appearances (video)

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LeBron James and Tony Parker are the only players to play in the last dozen postseasons.

(If you’re wondering, Manu Ginobili missed the 2009 playoffs due to an ankle injury.)

It’s fair to say LeBron was a bit more spectacular than Parker in that span. As LeBron enters his seventh straight Finals, the NBA released this awesome video showing LeBron’s best playoff highlight from each year:

There’s no entry for this year. Here’s betting it comes against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

David Stern: We thought we could re-work Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade until Mitch Kupchak ‘panicked’

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NBA commissioner David Stern – acting as New Orleans’ owner representative, he says – infamously vetoed a potential Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade in 2011.

But that didn’t close the possibility of Paul going to the Lakers.

The New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans and not be confused with the current Charlotte Hornets), Lakers and Rockets tried to rework the three-team trade that would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to New Orleans. But talks fell apart around the time the Lakers dealt Odom to the Mavericks.

Stern on Nunyo & Company (hat tip: Harrison Feigen of Silver Screen & Roll):

In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kevin Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick – not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.

Remember, Stern – roundly criticized for his handling of this episode* – has blamed the Lakers and Rockets for the lingering perception. This could just be him again trying to shift responsibility.

*Somewhat fairly, somewhat not. Owners veto general manager-approved trades often enough, and Stern was acting as New Orleans’ owner after George Shinn sold the franchise back to the league. But Stern had an agenda as commissioner. He never should have assumed such a large conflict of interest. What he did with the Paul trade was reasonable for an acting owner, but because Stern was also commissioner, it’s fair to question how much New Orleans’ interests and how much the league’s interests factored into the decision-making.

But let’s take Stern at his word – that he and the Hornets thought they could re-do the trade and send Paul to the Lakers. That doesn’t mean they were right. Maybe the Lakers and Rockets (who had Kyle Lowry, not the “Kevin Lowry” Stern named) were never going to part with enough to get Stern’s approval.

And maybe New Orleans didn’t properly convey its interest in still completing a deal. Perhaps, Kupchak acted reasonably by trading Odom to Dallas – for a first-round pick, a deal Mark Cuban would ultimately regret – rather than wait around for the Hornets, who eventually sent Paul to the Clippers.

It’s easy to blame Kupchak, but he might tell a different story.