Jordan Clarkson

Lakers bringing Briante Weber in for training camp

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Briante Weber has been hanging around the fringes of the NBA for a couple years, the point guard has played in short stints (usually 10-day contracts) for the Grizzlies, Heat, Warriors, and most recently Hornets. He’s also spent time in the D-League and played for Charlotte in the Orlando Summer league this year.

Now the Los Angeles Lakers are bringing in Weber into training camp to see if he can make the roster, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers have 14 players on guaranteed contracts, so in theory there is one roster spot left open. However, the Lakers may be set at the point — Lonzo Ball will start, but behind him Tyler Ennis and Jordan Clarkson can be the backups. It is possible the Lakers take on another point guard on a deal that carries no salary over to next season (they are being very protective of cap space, trying to set up two max contracts next summer) but it is very possible the Lakers will leave that final roster spot open for flexibility during the season.

The people who should be most concerned about the Weber signing is anyone who likes beer and has courtside seats for a Lakers’ preseason game.

Report: Lakers confident they can trade Jordan Clarkson to clear cap space next summer

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The Lakers have made little secret of their desire to chase – maybe even two – max free agents next summer. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins could all be available.

Three Two big problems:

The Lakers unloaded Mozgov’s long-term deal on the Nets, but Deng (guaranteed $54 million over the  next three years) and Clarkson (guaranteed $37.5 over the next three years) remain as impediments to cap space.

LeBron and Westbrook can each earn 35% of the salary cap. George and Cousins can each earn 30% of the salary cap. So, to lure two of them, the Lakers will need 60%-70% of the cap available.

If the Lakers renounce all their free agents – including Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Julius Randle – and dump Deng, their percentage of the cap available projects to be about 63%.

But that wouldn’t be enough for a max duo that includes LeBron and/or Westbrook. And it’d take a significant sweetener for another team to take Deng.

On the other hand, trading Clarkson would likely be far easier. If the Lakers dump him and stretch Deng, they’d project to have 67% of the cap available. With Ivica Zubac‘s 2018-19 salary unguaranteed and Thomas Bryant‘s behind a team option, that’s within striking distance of 70% – especially considering the exact salary cap won’t be determined until next summer. For now, we’re relying on estimates.

How viable is that path?

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:

One person within the organization who isn’t permitted to speak publicly on the subject told Bleacher Report the team is confident it can move Clarkson if needed to open space.

The implication seems to be the Lakers believe they could give away Clarkson without attaching a sweetener.

I’m skeptical.

Even next summer, Clarkson will still be owed $12,500,000 and $13,437,500 the following two seasons. That’s a lot in a tighter cap environment.

Clarkson can get to his spots inside the arc, but he doesn’t draw enough fouls or make enough 3-pointers. It’s tough to score efficiently while so reliant on 2-point jumpers. Clarkson is also a poor defender, and he hasn’t maintain the distributing ability he showed as a rookie.

He could rehab his value with a strong season – especially if he plays more point guard, where the Lakers have just Lonzo Ball and Tyler Ennis.

Still, I think the most likely question is: How much must the Lakers attach to Clarkson to dump him? The odds are against them being able to give him away without also surrendering positive assets.

If Clarkson plays well enough that the Lakers must include only moderate assets to dump him and the salary cap lands high enough that unloading Clarkson plus stretching Deng leaves 70% of the cap open, that’d be a massive win for the Lakers.

Then, they “just” have to convince two of LeBron, Westbrook, George and Cousins to come to Los Angeles.

Report: Lakers trade D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov to Nets for Brook Lopez, 27th pick

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The Lakers were looking to unload the Timofey Mozgov mistake they made last summer and start to clear out cap space for a push next summer.

The Brooklyn Nets were looking to move the expiring contract of Brook Lopez — and his quality offensive big man play — for a promising young player. Say, for example, D'Angelo Russell.

Those two sides have reached an agreement, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers now have the No. 2, 27, and 28 pick in the first round (28th was Houston’s they got in the Lou Williams trade). Expect them to try and use those picks in a deal to get Paul George (throwing in Julius Randle or Jordan Clarkson), something Marc Stein of ESPN noted, but I doubt that’s enough.

As noted, for the Lakers this move is about clearing the way for Lonzo Ball, and to clear cap space in 2018 to chase LeBron James and, sign/re-sign Paul George. It’s a smart play by the Magic/Pelinka front office that could have the Lakers as a contender in 201-19 if the dominos all fall, but the price is fairly high because Russell has potential.

For the Nets, they get that potential. The Lakers had questions about Russell’s work ethic and maturity (re: the Nick Young mess), but he’s just 21 and nobody who watched him questions his ability to see the court off the pick-and-roll and make plays. He just has to start doing it consistently. Coach Kenny Atkinson and the Nets may be better able to develop him, he will see heavy P&R calls with the floor spread and some shooters around him. Brooklyn has the cap space to take on bad contracts like Mozgov to get guys they want, and this is a good reclamation process.

Rumor: Lakers will not include No. 2 pick, Brandon Ingram in Paul George deal. Why would they?

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With Paul George‘s people telling the Pacers he’s going to be a free agent next summer and wants to head to the Lakers, there is only one reason for the Lakers to get involved in a trade for him now: Fear he gets dealt to Cleveland or Miami or wherever, wins some, decides he likes it and stays.

The Lakers can be proactive and make a trade now, but they shouldn’t give up any player or pick they think has real value. Which brings us to something Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said in his podcast this week (hat tip RealGM) :

“The Lakers aren’t giving them Brandon Ingram,” added Wojnarowski. “They aren’t giving them the No. 2 pick.”

Why would they? The Lakers shouldn’t overpay for a guy that wants to come there anyway. It probably goes beyond just those two things.

The Lakers might do one young player — Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle — and the 28th overall pick in the draft (via Houston in the Lou Williams deal) to get something done. At most. L.A. would love to unload one of the bad Timofey Mozgov/Luol Deng contracts, but the Pacers are going to ask for more than one young player and one pick to take that on.

The Pacers are going to talk to every team in the league and take the best deal on the table. It’s simple for them. It seems unlikely the Lakers will have the best offer since they believe they can land him a year from now as a free agent and give up nothing.

 

Report: Lakers trying to acquire another first-round pick

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The Lakers, who have the Nos. 2 and 28 picks in the upcoming draft, were reportedly discussing trading the second pick.

What do they want?

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The Los Angeles Lakers are trying to acquire another first-round pick for Thursday’s NBA draft, league sources told ESPN.

The Lakers have engaged at least two teams in the lottery, sources said, as they search for players to improve their outside shooting and perimeter defense.

While there have been inquires on the No. 2 pick, sources said it remains unlikely the Lakers would trade out of that position.

Trading down from No. 2 with the Kings, who have the Nos. 5 and 10 picks, would be a relatively simple way to land an extra first-rounder. But, as Shelburne says, the Lakers don’t seem particularly keen on parting with the second pick.

The Lakers have a roster full of players new team president Magic Johnson didn’t acquire, a fact he made glaringly clear when he declared everyone but Brandon Ingram tradable. D'Angelo Russell or Julius Randle – and maybe even Jordan Clarkson or Larry Nance Jr. – could fetch a first-rounder and allow Johnson to choose a player he wants rather than inherits.

We’re past the days of big-market teams like the Lakers just buying first-round picks. The salary scale and team control makes first-rounders just too valuable. But the Lakers have ammo to acquire another first-rounder.

They must be mindful of Paul George – what assets, if any, they want to trade for him. If they don’t trade, they need a plan to open max cap space for him next summer.

As long as they keep that in mind, there are plenty of logical ways for the Lakers to add a first-rounder while keeping the second pick. It’ll just cost them one of the talented young players they already have.