Dan Feldman

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NBA agent: Mitch Kupchak only GM who won’t tamper with free agents before July 1, disadvantages Lakers

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The Lakers have dreamed big in free agency the last few years, but they’ve struck out on the biggest stars. Then, after missing out on players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the Lakers have settled for scraps with the next tier of free agents already committed elsewhere.

What are the Lakers doing wrong?

Though teams aren’t technically permitted to contact free agents until their previous contracts expire — when the calendar turns from June 30 to July 1 Eastern each year — tampering is commonplace and selectively enforced. But Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak takes a different approach.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Said one player agent, who has dealt with Kupchak on several contracts, “He’s the only GM in the league who won’t engage at all before 9:01 p.m. [PT] on the first night of free agency. Then when he calls to express interest, there’s no stickiness to it.”

My first thought: What about Timofey Mozgov? The Lakers agreed to a four-year, $64 million contract with him within the first hour of free agency last year. Shelburne covers it:

According to sources, Kupchak was reluctant to allow Mozgov to be tempted by other offers, giving him a four-year, $64 million deal just minutes after free agency began.

I still find it hard to believe such a large contract was agreed upon so quickly. But, if I were Mozgov and someone offered me $64 million, it would take only minutes to accept. Because of the moratorium, the contract couldn’t be finalized for another week, anyway. There was still team to work out the fine print.

Kupchak’s approach is commendable. The onus should be on the NBA to set clear and enforceable tampering rules and allow everything else. But that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon, and in the meantime, the Lakers are falling behind. Not only do pre-July 1 conversations help make inroads with free agents, those talks reveal information that can be useful when formulating a plan.

Maybe this is why the Lakers hired Magic Johnson. He’s willing to tamper — though he’s not great at getting away with it.

Bucks’ Jabari Parker tears ACL, out for full year

AP Foto/Jeffrey Phelps
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The Bucks’ worst fears about Jabari Parker, who injured his knee last night, were realized.

The forward will miss the rest of the season and likely part of next season.

Bucks release:

Bucks forward Jabari Parker suffered a left knee injury during the third quarter of last night’s game vs. Miami at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. This morning, Parker underwent an MRI that revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. Parker will undergo surgery to repair the injury and will miss the remainder of the 2016-17 season. The recovery and rehabilitation period is estimated at 12 months.

There is no silver lining here. This is a brutal injury for Parker and the Bucks.

Milwaukee might — might — find adequate fit replacements in Mirza Teletovic, Michael Beasley or Thon Maker. But all are massive talent downgrades. Using John Henson, Greg MonroeRoy Hibbert and/or Spencer Hawes in two-big lineups would drastically change the team’s style.

Parker was having a career year, averaging 20.1 points per game and becoming the true stretch four the Bucks needed him to be. Improved playmaking also showed the all-around potential that made Parker the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft.

Two games and three games out of playoff position, Milwaukee faces even more daunting postseason odds now. The Bucks might even become sellers before the trade deadline (beyond Miles Plumlee‘s bloated contract), though Khris Middleton‘s return could buoy them and Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s incredible production will prevent too deep of a slide.

Parker will be eligible for a contract extension this offseason, and this injury — his second ACL tear in his left knee — will only complicate negotiations. Parker also missed most of his rookie year with the same injury. Was he always especially prone to this tear? Is he more susceptible now? Both sides will dig into those questions when determining Parker’s long-term value.

For now, this is a real short-term setback to everyone involved.

 

Metta World Peace reminisces in final visit to The Palace: ‘I have no choice but to laugh about it now’

AP Photo/Duane Burleson
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Back at The Palace for perhaps the final time, Metta World Peace recalled the moment that landed him in basketball infamy.

“I see the flashbacks sometimes. Not necessarily out here – because when the fans are there, it’s cool. But when nobody is in there, you reflect on it,” World Peace said in the locker room before Wednesday night’s game. “Sometimes you can look, and it’s like, I see exactly where everything happened.”

World Peace was still known as Ron Artest on Nov. 19, 2004, when he jumped into the stands at The Palace, precipitating perhaps the ugliest melee in NBA history. Now with the Los Angeles Lakers, he was back in Auburn Hills for Wednesday night’s game against Detroit. It was the final scheduled visit to the arena for the Lakers, since the Pistons are planning to move downtown next season.

“It’s different now. I always like to make some jokes, sometimes,” World Peace said. “I come to the building, I’ll just say like, `A lot of history here.”‘

A lot has happened since that night in 2004, when Artest was a member of the Indiana Pacers and his actions left his career at a crossroads. He was suspended for the rest of that season after the “Malice at the Palace” – but when he returned, he was able to continue what turned out to be a lengthy pro career.

Artest played a key role when the Lakers won the championship in 2010, and the following year, he even won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, an honor presented by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. Artest was honored for his work in promoting mental health awareness.

He changed his name to Metta World Peace in 2011.

Now 37, World Peace has played in only 18 games this season. He was inactive Wednesday.

As his career winds down, he feels a long way removed from the brawl against the Pistons.

“I have no choice but to laugh about it now,” he said. “There’s nothing else you can do.”

He even has nice things to say about The Palace.

“Great building, great fans. I know we had a lot of wars on the court,” he said. “The Pistons – those were the roughest games I ever played in.”

Detroit’s most recent NBA title came in 2004. Before beating the Lakers in the Finals that year, the Pistons had to go through Indiana for the conference title. Months before the brawl, Detroit eliminated the Pacers in six games.

“That series, we had them bruising,” World Peace said. “Our whole group was tough, and their whole group was tough.”

Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

Bryan Cranston pretends to slap Tony Parker’s butt during inbound, M. Night Shyamalan laughs (video)

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This is funnier than this. Bryan Cranston knows when to hold up.

Report: Phil Jackson called Michael Jordan to try calming Charles Oakley

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As Charles Oakley fought with Knicks security last night, Knicks president Phil Jackson tried to calm Oakley.

When that didn’t work, Jackson apparently turned to his former player — Michael Jordan, a longtime Oakley friend from their time as teammates with the Bulls. Joran and Oakley were so close, Jordan brought Oakley to the Wizards during his second comeback.

Stephen A. Smith on ESPN:

Phil and others felt he was completely out of control. My sources told me he picked up the phone. He called Michael Jordan, because if there’s one person in the world who can get through to Charles Oakley and calm him down, it is Michael Jordan. But Michael Jordan, from what I’m told, was unable to reach Charles Oakley because, by that time, Charles Oakley had been arrested and removed from the Garden and had his cell phone confiscated at the time. So, he couldn’t be reached.

Typical Phil Jackson, delegating to someone else.