Nick Young plans to recruit free agents to Lakers, told Goran Dragic: ‘You might be my teammate next year’

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The Lakers are not a team that can attempt to undergo a traditional rebuilding of the roster, where they bottom out without any stars in place for an extended period of time in hopes of landing a future franchise cornerstone via a high draft pick.

Los Angeles is a market that demands star-level talent so that it can continue to sell those high-priced floor seats and luxury suites at Staples Center — which is a big reason why Kobe Bryant was given such a high-dollar contract in the twilight of his career, despite the fact that it hurt the franchise from a salary cap standpoint.

The plan for the Lakers has always been to sign an established All-Star or two in free agency. The problem has been, however, that they haven’t been able to convince anyone to come, even though they had a max contract slot available as recently as last summer.

That plan will continue once this dismal season is finished. And Nick Young plans to work the phones in order to help that cause.

From Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

“It’s tough, but I know it’s going to get better,” Young told the Los Angeles News Group. “This offseason is going to be big for us. It’s going to work out.” …

“I told Goran Dragic on the court, ‘You might be my teammate next year.’” Young told the L.A. News Group shortly after the Lakers’ loss on Monday to the Phoenix Suns. “I’ll talk to Marc (Gasol.) Me and him are cool. Kevin Love, I’ll talk to him.”

Swaggy P, the Lakers’ free-agent pitchman?

The Lakers’ success in the free-agent market will rely on other factors, of course. The Lakers have enough cap space to sign one maximum-salary free agent. It appears likely recruiting efforts will mostly fall on Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ 36-year-old star currently intent on playing out the final year of his contract next season that will pay him $25 million.

It’s tough to envision max-contract-level players being swayed by Swaggy P’s pitches. The way Kobe Bryant has handled this season, though, may in fact carry some serious weight if anyone is truly considering Los Angeles as a free agent destination.

A report that surfaced earlier this season that said players didn’t want to come to the Lakers because of Bryant was pure nonsense; the reality is, no one was going to leave their current team (and an extra year, and tens of millions of dollars on the table) to come to a franchise as in disarray as the Lakers are from a roster construction standpoint.

But since passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list, Kobe has dialed it back considerably. He’s not only sat out plenty of games due to rest, but he’s also been a much more willing facilitator who’s been less intent on getting his from a pure scoring perspective.

Bryant as a willing role player may be enticing to someone like Kevin Love, who’s really the only big name free agent that you could see pursuing other options if his first season in Cleveland ends up in disaster; LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol probably aren’t leaving winning situations (and max contract offers).

Goran Dragic (whom Young mentioned) is interesting, because of the wealth of guards already in place in Phoenix, and the Suns’ potential reluctance to give him an offer approaching the max. The Lakers may be able to swoop in by overpaying if the Suns are unwilling to do so, but Young making a phone call or two is unlikely to sway that decision.

LeBron James finishes Rajon Rondo alley-oop to close out half (VIDEO)

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One of the reasons LeBron James leads the league in assists — other than the fact he can do anything on the basketball court he wants — is that he was the Lakers’ only quality playmaker to start the season. He had to set guys up.

Until Rajon Rondo returned recently from injury.

Now Rondo is setting up everyone — including LeBron for this monster alley-oop just before the half Tuesday night.

LeBron can still finish with the best of them.

Just don’t ask him about doing the dunk contest.

 

New Orleans spoils Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut in 115-104 Pelicans win

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jrue Holiday had 22 points and 10 assists, Brandon Ingram added 21 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut with a 115-104 victory over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Anthony finished with 10 points while Portland leading scorer and four-time All-Star Damian Lillard missed his first game of the season with back spasms.

Starting at forward and playing across the street from where he led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship over Kansas, Anthony scored the Blazers’ first points of the game on a 3-pointer from 26 feet out. However, he wound up missing 10 of 14 shots in what was the first game of his 17th NBA season.

Ingram looked spry in his return from right knee soreness that sidelined him four games, particularly on an authoritative, driving, one-handed dunk that got the crowd roaring in the opening quarter.

J.J. Redick hit 4 of 9 3-pointers and scored 14 points for New Orleans, which has won two straight and three of four. Kenrich Williams, who got the start at forward, filled the stat sheet with hustle plays, grabbing 14 rebounds to go with three steals and a blocked shot. He also scored eight points.

Holiday highlighted his night with a spinning dribble around Nassir Little for a driving dunk. In the second half, he scored on an unusual play in which he remained under his own basket, re-tying his shoes while his team advanced 4-on-5 into the offensive end. Holiday then came sprinting down court, took a handoff from Nicolo Melli near the 3-point line and exploded toward the rim for a layup.

C.J. McCollum led Portland with 22 points, while Hassan Whiteside added 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Anthony wasted no time getting his first shot off. His miss from 20 feet came within the opening 30 seconds and was Portland’s first shot of the game. Anthony also took Portland’s second shot, hitting his first of two made 3s.

But when Anthony tried to rise for a two-handed dunk in the first half, he was met with resistance by a member of the NBA’s rookie class when eighth overall draft pick Jaxson Hayes rejected the attempt.

Hayes closed out the half with his third block, swatting away a driving floater by Anfernee Simons to keep Portland’s lead at 54-53.

New Orleans seized momentum in the third quarter, going up by 13 on a sequence that began when Melli hit a 3 and then got the ball right back in a largely vacated Portland back court after Nickeil Alexander-Walker dove to swipe the ball away from McCollum. Melli went straight in for a dunk that made it 83-70.

Portland responded with three quick 3s — two by Kent Bazemore — during a 9-2 run that trimmed New Orleans’ lead to six before Alexander-Walker, who had hit 11 3s in his previous two games, ended the period by banking in a straightaway 3 to make it 88-79.

Watch Carmelo Anthony’s first bucket as a Trail Blazer

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That Carmelo Anthony started the first game he played for Portland speaks to why they signed him in the first place — this team is so shorthanded along the front line that the guy they just signed got thrown into the fire.

Anthony responded with a solid level of play. His first bucket was a wing three where both defenders went to CJ McCollum and left ‘Melo wide open.

Anthony played 12 minutes in the first half and had 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, and three fouls. The team was looking to keep him at around 20 minutes for his first game back.

Portland led New Orleans 54-53 at the half.

How a single computer folder and dogged HR official exposed former Kings executive’s $13.4M embezzlement scheme

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Just how close did Jeff David come to getting away with embezzling $13.4 million from the Kings while working for them? He already secured a new job with the Heat and was in the process of moving from Sacramento to Miami.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

On this Monday, walking through the Davids’ new front door is a dizzying procession of cable guys, utility workers and movers. Amid all of this, Jeff receives a phone call from a former co-worker with the Kings. Her name is Stacy Wegzyn, and she works in HR. Jeff last remembers sitting in her office in Sacramento just months earlier, being told that the Kings were going to eliminate his position. After a few pleasantries, she gets down to business. She tells Jeff she’s been going through his old files, and in doing so she found one labeled “TurboTax” that references an entity called Sacramento Sports Partners.

“I was just curious what that is and if those are documents that should go to somebody else,” Wegzyn says.

It’s a seemingly innocuous inquiry from an HR lifer. But it’s one that will dictate the rest of Jeff David’s life. If he knows that — or senses it — he doesn’t let on.

“No, no, no,” Jeff responds. “That was a … man, this is taking me back. Maybe 2015?”

Wegzyn presses on. She asks Jeff whether the documents contain anything that anyone with the Kings needs to see. Jeff assures her they can trash them because the entity isn’t around anymore. A few minutes after he hangs up, his mother-in-law, Nancy, is standing at the front door when an FBI investigator appears, asking to speak to Jeff.

If you like the NBA or true crime – let alone both – I HIGHLY recommend reading Arnovitz’s full piece. It’s riveting!