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Report: Lakers reach agreement with Luol Deng on four-year, $72 million deal

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Apparently, the Lakers wanted a veteran presence up front to go with their young core players such as Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram — and they are not afraid to pay a lot to get them.

First, the Lakers gave old-school center Timofey Mozgov $64 million. Now this, via Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has wanted Deng for years (remember he was part of the talks back in the “Kobe Bryant to the Bulls” trade conversation many years ago), now he got his man. There is a good fit here, Deng played the four for Miami last season (after Chris Bosh was sidelined) and thrived, but is a traditional three so Luke Walton can plug him in as needed. He was solid at both ends of the court (although his skills are in decline at age 31), plus he’s loved by teammates and a rock solid guy in the locker room.

This is a solid signing, he’s the kind of professional the Lakers need in their young locker room. The Lakers had to pay a premium to get him, but that’s where the Lakers are right now — they are not a destination (as evidenced by their attempts to land elite stars). The Lakers need to build a solid foundation that can win some games. Deng helps that. Los Angels may well regret the final year of this deal when Deng is 35, but that is the price the team needed to pay to land him.

If the Lakers had made this signing right after free agency started and not the Mozgov deal it would have been much better optics for the franchise.

Somehow, Ja Morant highlights keep getting better (video)

Ja Morant
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Ja Morant is special.

He has already produced a few amazing plays during his rookie year. He has even taken over full games with his flashy play.

But the performance he put on during the Grizzlies’ win over the Cavaliers last night was something else.

Thrice, Morant elevated for show-stopping dunks. He scored only once. But each time, something incredible happened.

First, Morant way up to catch a lob from Jae Crowder, adjusted mid-air and found Jaren Jackson Jr. for a dunk:

Then, less than a minute later, Morant finished a lob from Crowder with a beautiful one-handed slam:

Finally, Morant leaped to posterize Larry Nance Jr., realized that wouldn’t work then threw a spinning behind-the-back pass to Jackson. Though Alfonzo McKinnie blocked Jackson, Morant’s move was dazzling:

If Morant is going to keep putting on shows like this during games, maybe we can forgive him for skipping the dunk contest.

Trae Young gets ankles absolutely destroyed by Dejounte Murray (video)

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The Hawks got Trae Young his desired help, trading for Jeff Teague.

Maybe Young will do his part and step up on defense.

That didn’t happen on this possession against Spurs guard Dejounte Murry.

At least Young continued his breakout season on the other end, scoring 31 points and dishing nine assists in Atlanta’s rare victory in San Antonio.

Tristan Thompson slaps Jae Crowder’s rear end, gets ejected (video)

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What is it about Cleveland athletes slapping butts and getting in trouble?

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faces a simple battery charge for slapping a police officer’s backside in LSU’s locker room after the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last night, Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson got ejected for slapping Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder‘s behind.

Thompson and Crowder got double technical fouls earlier in the game. So, Thompson got ejected with a tech for this incident between free throws.

Though the two are former Cleveland teammates, Crowder didn’t look amused. Crowder doesn’t play.

The Cavs rallied without Thompson, but Memphis won, 113-109.

Kyle Lowry flings in wild 3-pointer (video)

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Kyle Lowry had the ball in his left hand when he felt contact. Not only did he try to sell a foul by flailing his arms, the right-hander tried to draw a shooting foul by hurling an off-balance 31-footer toward the basket.

No continuation. No whistle at all.

But Lowry made the shot, anyway.

Lowry and the Raptors will take it, but they didn’t need a break like that against the Wizards’ dismal defense last night. Toronto won, 140-111.