Dan Feldman

Nick Laham/Getty Images

Lakers signing Stephen Zimmerman, V.J. Beachem

1 Comment

The Lakers have 14 players with guaranteed contracts. That leaves one regular-season, standard-contract roster spot up for grabs.

They’ve already added Vander Blue and Briante Weber. Now, two more competitors join the mix.

Lakers release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed center Stephen Zimmerman, it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Magic drafted Zimmerman in the second round last year then waived the 20-year-old this summer. With a lingering arm injury and in need of more muscle, it’s unclear he’ll ever be healthy and strong enough to stick in the NBA, especially because his skill set requires him to play inside. But he’s moderately mobile and skilled. This is a fine flier.

V.J. Beachem went undrafted after four years at Notre Dame. He’s a 3-and-D prospect who’s not a sure bet to translate either skill to the NBA. Another reasonable choice for the Lakers here.

Both Zimmerman and Beachem likely end up waived and on the Lakers’ minor-league affiliate. But each will have a chance to beat out Blue and Weber first.

Steven Adams apparently shaved his mustache (photo)

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
1 Comment

Steven Adams‘ mustache 2014-2017?

Thunder teammate Enes Kanter:

Maybe this is a Kawhi Leonard-braids situation, where someone edited a photo as a joke. That’d be in character for Adams and Kanter, who’ve branded themselves the Stache Bros. Or maybe Adams just plans to let his facial hair grow back.

Or maybe this is the sad end of an era. Brace yourselves just in case.

LeBron James calls Los Angeles ‘home’

Harry How/Getty Images
17 Comments

LeBron James tweeted that he wanted to find a pickup game. Jamal Crawford invited the Cavaliers star to Crawford’s native Seattle. LeBron responded:

LeBron was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. He lived in Miami then returned to his home state. He has houses in Bath Township, Ohio, and Los Angeles.

Home can be a moving target. I could be visiting a friend in a city I’ve never been, be out for dinner then talk about going “home” to sleep.

But “home” also appears an important concept to LeBron. Most famously, he titled his Sports Illustrated essay, “I’m Coming Home.”

So, he’s signing with the Lakers next summer?

As usual: Maybe. There are rumors his wife wants to live in Los Angeles full-time.

But there were rumors about LeBron and Savannah James’ fondness for Los Angeles in 2014, and LeBron still signed with the Cavs. LeBron also might want to keep heat on the Cavaliers to do everything they can to build a winner around him. This could be a subtle way of doing that, whether or not he actually intends to bolt for the Lakers.

Or LeBron might just be referring to the place he often stays this time of year as “home” without there being a deeper meaning.

Report: Knicks to host 76ers on Christmas

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
9 Comments

The NBA is so eager to showcase New York on Christmas, in 2015 – the rare year the Knicks were left off the Christmas schedule – the league reportedly regretted omitting them after they exceeded expectations.

They were 14-16.

New York’s market allows for a low bar. Apparently, the Knicks – despite Carmelo Anthony being on the trade block and the team talking of prioritizing player development – will clear it this year.

Spike Eskin of Sportsradio 94WIP:

The 76ers, another team that gets the big-market benefit of the doubt (though to a far lesser extent), are more deserving. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz comprise an exciting young core. J.J. Redick and Robert Covington fill in nicely to help make Philadelphia competitive now.

Kristaps Porzingis is also a budding star, but beyond him, the Knicks don’t have much – except the New York market. That just matters so much to the NBA’s bottom line.

Variety helps engage fans, too. This will be the 76ers’ first Christmas game since 2001 and just their second since 1989.

They also carry enough potential pitfalls – Embiid getting hurt, the young players not being ready – that they won’t necessarily blow out the Knicks on national TV. Not many viable Christmas-playing teams offer that.

Rumor: Warriors to pursue Paul George

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
8 Comments

Remember when Klay Thompson‘s dad/Los Angeles sportscaster Mychal Thompson brought up the Warriors chasing Kevin Durant more than a year before they actually signed him?

It seems Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson of The Athletic are doing something similar with Paul George and Golden State.

Kawakami on Posting Up:

Marcus and I have teased this for more than a year. We think they’re going to go after Paul George, somehow. I think Joe Lacob is going to try to find a way to get Paul George. I don’t know how that would happen, but I didn’t know how it was going to happen when they were – three years ago, when they said they were go after Durant. Well, they didn’t say it. But they might have whispered it.

The Warriors could have had George already – if they would’ve traded Klay Thompson to the Pacers. But there’s obviously a huge difference between acquiring George on an expiring contract and signing him outright in free agency next summer.

As far-fetched as Golden State landing Durant seemed, the impending salary-cap spike always made it plausible. The Warriors had to dump Andrew Bogut and let Harrison Barnes walk, but that was small potatoes for getting Durant.

Signing George would almost certainly require very large potatoes.

A little perspective: The salary cap projects to be $102 million next summer, but it won’t be determined until then. Even if they trim their roster to just Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors wouldn’t have enough cap room to pay George his max unless the salary cap eclipses $118 million. The NBA’s salary-cap projections can fluctuate, but a $16 million increase within a year is nowhere near heard of. And that would leave just the room exception – which would be about $5 million in this scenario – for Kevin Durant, who would have presumably opted out. He might be taking an unexpectedly large discount this year, but that’d be a monumentally large sacrifice by Durant next year.

More realistically, Golden State could use Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to sign-and-trade for George. But that’d require appeasing the Thunder, no easy task. The Warriors would also have to stay below the hard cap – which is barely feasible, unless George and/or Durant take large discounts. Even then, it’d be a tough squeeze.

Golden State could also try to trade for George before the trade deadline, acquiring his Bird Rights then spending any amount to re-sign him and Durant. But Oklahoma City would have even more leverage than the offseason. How could the Warriors entice the Thunder? If good enough, Oklahoma City might not be at-all willing to deal Russell Westbrook‘s co-star. (This could be a reason Westbrook has yet to sign a contract extension. If he waits to re-sign until next summer, he implicitly demands the Thunder not sell during the season – or leads to them trading Westbrook, too).

If George hits free agency, Golden State’s realistic chances of landing George likely evaporate. The Warriors would probably have to trade one of their top four players to get George. But doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?