Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves

Byron Scott: Lakers ‘better be ready to play some defense’

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Byron Scott will be the new head coach of the Lakers.

Even though the team hasn’t yet officially announced the hiring due to “some little details” that need to be ironed out, he’s agreed in principle to the four-year, $17 million deal that was originally reported on Saturday.

Scott is already giving interviews explaining his excitement over his new role, and wants to make it clear that he will be trying to make the Lakers a defensive team above all else.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:

“I’m a little tired tonight,” Scott told ESPN.com late Sunday night after returning from a trip to the Caribbean. “But I’m extremely excited about the job, extremely excited about the opportunity to bring the purple and gold back up to championship-caliber basketball.”

Scott said he’s been texting with Lakers star Kobe Bryant throughout the summer and conferring about this year’s team. Bryant texted Scott this weekend after news broke that he had accepted the job.

“He told me he was working out with Wesley [Johnson] and Nick [Young],” Scott said. “I told them that sounded great, but ‘they better be ready to play some defense.’ “

The Lakers finished 28th in defensive efficiency last season, and sure, part of that can be blamed on Mike D’Antoni and his diminished interest in stressing the importance in playing on that end of the floor. But a lot of it also has to do with personnel, and the injuries that forced so many random lineups to be thrown together at various points throughout the season.

The question becomes whether or not Scott is capable of getting the desired results.

As we’ve detailed previously (with some help from John Schuhmann at NBA.com), Scott’s Cavaliers team was historically bad defensively. In fact, he’s the only coach since the league expanded to 30 teams to lead one that finished in the bottom five in defensive efficiency for three straight seasons. You can blame that on the roster if you want, but Mike Brown, for example, took Cleveland immediately from 27th to 17th in that category last season.

Scott is right to want to stress defense, but saying it and implementing the proper schemes are two different things. Maybe he fills out his coaching staff with some strong defensive-minded assistants, but if not, and he is able to turn the defense around, it’ll be the first time in a long time he’s proven capable of doing so.

Report: Lakers working toward buyout with Jose Calderon; Warriors, Rockets interested

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Jose Calderon #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a called foul during the second half of a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on November 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Lakers took on the salary of Jose Calderon this year so they could get a couple second-round picks from the Bulls (Chicago got him from New York in the Derrick Rose trade), but even with the previous regime in Los Angeles the aging point guard was never part of the future.

As was expected, the Lakers are now talking about buying out the Spanish national and letting him head to a playoff team for a stretch run, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears….

Sources say that Calderon, if he winds up hitting the open market, would instantly become a target for both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.

Cleveland may also have interest if their plan to land Deron Williams when he is bought out by Dallas goes awry.

Calderon, 35, was not part of the Lakers’ regular rotation, playing in just 24 games. He can still knock down a shot if he has space and can set his feet, and he still has a high hoops IQ and can see the floor, but his athleticism has faded, and that can leave him exposed. Particularly on defense.

Players are being waived now so they clear in time for teams to sign them by March 1, after that said players are not eligible for playoff rosters.

There are better players to hit the waiver wire in the coming days — D-Will, Andrew Bogut, Matt Barnes — but Calderon is going to land somewhere. He’d be a solid third point guard and veteran presence for a playoff run.

Marquese Chriss blocks Bobby Portis, who gets testy (video)

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Bobby Portis didn’t enjoy getting blocked by Marquese Chriss. And Portis sure didn’t appreciate how Chriss fell on him.

But it was all worth it (for me, at least) just to see the Bulls forward make a face that reminded me of this:

Dwyane Wade with dagger dunk to seal Bulls win vs. Suns (VIDEO)

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The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.

The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.

The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.

DeMarre Carroll shoves Isaiah Thomas to ground on break, tempers flare

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Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll picked up a deserved flagrant for this foul.

With a couple of minutes left to go in the second quarter, Isaiah Thomas made the steal when DeMar DeRozan lost the ball on a drive, and Thomas was off to the races. Trying to prevent a lay-up, Carroll decided to foul Thomas far from the basket, but did so with a forearm shove that sent Thomas sprawling on the ground.

Thomas got up and had words, as did Jae Crowder.

Carroll got a flagrant and a technical, Thomas and Crowder each picked up technicals for jumping in.