Kurt Helin

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers

Will Robert Upshaw be in training camp for the Los Angeles Lakers?

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There were reports that the Lakers and Robert Upshaw had reached a training camp deal way back in July during Summer League — but that turned out to be premature, the contract has never been formally offered. The Lakers put the undrafted Upshaw — an imposing, physical, shot-blocking seven-foot center who was dropped from two college programs — on their Summer League team. He looked like a project Las Vegas, one who may be years from being a rotation player, but one with some promise (he set good screens, for example). He’s the kind of player that teams bring to training camp so they can get a closer look.

But will Upshaw be at Lakers’ training camp?

Upshaw seems to think so. After a Seattle Pro-Am game Upshaw spoke with Scout.com about it — as found by our friend Darius Soriano at Forum Blue and Gold — and said he expects to be at Lakers’ training camp if he does the things he needs to do.

Eric Pincus of the LA Times tweeted something similar.

It’s unlikely Upshaw makes the Lakers’ roster. They will start Roy Hibbert at center and bring Robert Sacre in off the bench, plus they are pretty stacked at the four spot with Julius Randle, Brandon Bass, Tarik Black and Larry Nance Jr. Difficult to imagine Upshaw in that mix right now. This may be something where the Lakers would love to get him on their D-League team and have him work on his conditioning, his offense and game skills, plus show he’s got his life in order.

But first he’s got to get his life on track, and then get to training camp.

Shaq to Kobe on podcast: “I just want people to know that I don’t hate you”

Los Angeles Lakers' center Shaquille O'Neal (L) la
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Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant couldn’t work together just a little more than a decade ago, and with that the core of a Lakers’ team that had won three titles in a row went supernova in a very public fashion. All because of the oversized egos of those two men.

A decade later, they get along fine and look back at themselves from that era as immature kids. Kobe knows he was a little too headstrong and pushy, Shaq knows he should have worked harder.

That’s the core of what Shaq and Kobe get into on The Big Podcast with Shaq, which drops Monday. We’ve brought you other quotes from that, but Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times got a listen and had more details in a story Sunday.

“I just want people to know that I don’t hate you, I know you don’t hate me. I call it today a ‘work beef,’ is what we had,” said O’Neal, who retired after the 2010-11 season. “I was young, you was young. But then as I look at it, we won three [championships] out of four so I don’t really think a lot was done wrong. So I just wanted to clear the air and let everybody know that, no, I don’t hate you. We had a lot of disagreements, we had a lot of arguments. But I think it fueled us both.”

Kobe said that the beefs were one thing, but both of them taking their fight to the press made things worse. People’s positions became entrenched, and feelings were hurt. Kobe also said he was young and headstrong and was not going to back down — even if it meant fighting Shaq.

“In ’99, I think Shaq realized that this kid is really competitive and he’s a little crazy,” said Bryant, who is heading into what could be his final NBA season. “And I realized that I probably had a couple of screws loose because I nearly got into a fistfight and I actually was willing to get into a fight with this man. I went home and I was like, ‘Dude, I’ve either got to be the dumbest or the most courageous kid on the face of the Earth.'”

Shaq also said that Phil Jackson — despite the fact he later wrote Kobe didn’t listen and was hard to coach — was fair.

“He was really fair,” O’Neal said. “He only got fed up one time and he came in and said, ‘Both of ya’ll need to cut it out.’ And that’s the only thing he said.”

I look forward to hearing the entire podcast. It will be two guys looking back at their youth and shaking their heads, which is something we can all relate to.

Sneaky good summer move: Spurs trade for Ray McCallum

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers
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If you didn’t see the 30 games Ray McCallum played as a starter for the Sacramento Kings to close out last season, I can’t blame you. By the time they got around to hiring George Karl things had gone sideways in the California capital and this team was not headed to the playoffs.

But the second-year point guard looked pretty good. The son of a coach who plays a high IQ game and does a lot of the little things right, he averaged 11.2 points a game as a starter, shot 34 percent from three at that time, and dished out 4.3 assists a night. He’s a solid defender (but not a stopper, as he had been billed). He’s got good handles and uses that skill to weave through a defense to create havoc and open up angles. While his shot and shot selection could still use some work, this is an improving young player entering just his third season who can be a solid part of the point guard rotation on any team.

The Spurs snatched him up for a second round pick.

It was one of the quieter moves of a busy summer, but it was about the most Spurs thing ever. They pick up a solid player making less than $1 million a year for next to nothing. (You can see why the Kings made the move, they have Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison, McCallum would be buried on their bench.)

The Spurs are high on him as someone they trust to step in and guide the offense, something mentioned in Buck Harvey’s feature on McCallum in the Express-News.

While they don’t think McCallum will be the defender Cory Joseph is, they see him as someone who can run a team. If Tony Parker suffers injuries again, McCallum could be a key to the season.

McCallum is not Parker — if the French guard suffers an injury again it’s a big blow to the Spurs. And they can’t afford those kinds of setbacks with the quality of teams at the top of the Western Conference.

But mixed with Patty Mills, McCallum will play a significant role for the Spurs getting Parker time on the bench in games, plus nights off. McCallum will step right in and do Spurs-like things, making smart plays and focusing on doing what he does well, not trying to do too much.

I expect McCallum will thrive this season. And we’ll all look back at the McCallum trade and say “it’s the Spurs doing Spurs things again.”

Remembering Darryl Dawkins (VIDEO)

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He was a fantastic player, a force of nature in the paint.

He was loved as a person off the court.

Darryl Dawkins will be missed. The NBA put together this tribute video about Dawkins and we thought we’d pass it along.

Report: Heat want to take long look at young guards before trading Mario Chalmers

Mario Chalmers
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The point guard rotation in Miami is clear-cut: Goran Dragic starts, Mario Chalmers comes off the bench, then second-year player Tyler Johnson will mop up any remaining minutes.

But as we noted before, Chalmers has been and remains available via trade. He’s been on the trade block since about when Don Johnson became the face of Miami police.

If a Chalmers trade happens, is Johnson ready to step up? That’s one of the big questions as the Heat head into training camp next month, reports Barry Jackson at the Miami Herald.

And with Tyler Johnson also cleared to return from his broken jaw sustained in Summer League (he has been working out in Delray Beach), the Heat is back to full strength a month before training camp. The Heat, incidentally, wants to take a long look at Johnson and Josh Richardson in training camp before deciding whether to make a renewed attempt to trade Chalmers.

If they can stay healthy, with Chris Bosh and Dragic running the show, the Heat very well could be a top-four team in the East. On paper they have a lot of talent, we just need to see how it all blends. Then, if they are on that kind of trajectory, would they want to trade Chalmers? Only if they have someone who can step in and take those minutes on without much of a drop-off.

Just something to watch as the Heat start to move toward the season. Because you can be sure Chalmers’ name will come up in trade rumors. Guaranteed.