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LaVar Ball says Lakers are Lonzo’s team, not LeBron’s. Should we care?

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This summer, the Lakers fired a clear shot across the bow of Lonzo Ball. First, they went out and got veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. Then, after Summer League, Magic Johnson effusively praised Josh Hart‘s point guard play, saying he could see Hart starting for the Lakers.

The message to Lonzo was clear — you’re no longer treated like The Golden Child. There will be no codling. You had a good rookie season (the only reason it was seen as a disappointment to some was Magic’s ridiculous praise after the draft set the bar unfairly high), but it’s time to take a big step forward. Show the Lakers you’ve developed a more consistent shot. Show them you can be part of winning right now. Show you can fit with LeBron James and play well off the ball (something he did at UCLA). LeBron is here and the Lakers are about wins now, not development, and if another point guard gives them a better chance to win than Lonzo, the other guy will get the minutes.

Of course, none of that is going to stop LaVar Ball from saying stupid… things. Over-the-top braggadocio has worked for him so far, it’s built him a brand and got him a big Facebook show, why stop now?

The senior Ball’s latest comments came on Los Angeles hip-hop powerhouse radio station Power 106, where LaVar said the Lakers’ are Lonzo’s team, not LeBron’s.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: we all know that’s crap. Anywhere LeBron goes, it’s his team. His locker room. It’s not even up for debate.

LaVar also said Lonzo and LeBron together will win at least two titles.

The question is, do we care anymore what he says? Honestly, I don’t. However, I also have a feeling this story will generate a lot of traffic. I sense a lot of people care.

I doubt LeBron knows or cares what LaVar says. Much like dealing with the current president on Twitter, better not to respond because it drags LeBron down to that level.

Last season in Los Angeles, LaVar and his sideshow were a much bigger deal outside the locker room than in it, where Lakers’ players brushed off LaVar’s antics and comments. Lonzo was bothered least of all. Most players have been around a lot of over-the-top, pushy AAU and college parents, they just tune all that out. As the NBA season wore on, LaVar focused more on his other two sons (and playing in Lithuania).

However, for the Lakers’ organization, LaVar is a distraction. The shot across the bow this summer was not just at Lonzo — the Lakers with LeBron are back near the top of the NBA food chain, and they don’t want the distractions. The Lakers are not going to trade Lonzo because of his father (in fact, it makes him harder to trade, something the team found in talks this summer — a fact not lost on LaVar), but at some point, there may be blowback. The Lakers are now past the rebuilding phase, they want to win now and figure out what players on the current roster can be part of a contender once they land another star (via trade or free agency). Lonzo needs to prove he can stay healthy, his shot has improved, and that he should be part of that future.

If not, he’ll be out. And it won’t matter what LaVar wants or says.

Kings hire WNBA’s Lindsey Harding as assistant coach

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings have hired former WNBA player Lindsey Harding as an assistant and player development coach on Luke Walton’s staff.

The team also hired Stacey Augmon and Rico Hines on Friday.

Harding played nine years in the WNBA before working as a pro personnel scout and then player development coach for the Philadelphia 76ers.

She becomes the latest woman to serve as a coach in the NBA, joining others like Boston’s Kara Lawson, San Antonio’s Becky Hammon, Dallas’ Jenny Boucek and Cleveland’s Lindsay Gottlieb.

The Kings have a history of hiring female coaches, notably Nancy Lieberman and Boucek.

 

Wizards reportedly to finally remove interim tag from GM Tommy Sheppard

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Tommy Sheppard has been doing the work as the Wizards GM since April when Wizards owner Ted Leonsis finally ended Ernie Grunfeld’s run as team GM.

Sheppard was the GM through the draft. Through free agency. All the time with the “interim” tag on his job title. In Las Vegas for Summer League, plenty of other executives wondered why that tag was still on Sheppard’s title.

It’s finally coming off, reports Candace Buckner of the Washington Post.

The Washington Wizards removed the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard’s title Friday, promoting him to be the 12th general manager in franchise history, according to a person with knowledge of the situation…

The promotion of Sheppard, who will be entering his 17th season with the Wizards, mirrors the internal hiring decision Leonsis made with his hockey team. In 2014, Leonsis elevated Brian MacLellan as the Washington Capitals senior vice president and general manager after firing George McPhee. Before the promotion, MacLellan had spent the previous seven years under McPhee as an assistant general manager.

This likely will be made official in the next 48-72 hours.

Part of the delay may have been that a couple of prominent names were linked to the Wizards job at different times. There were reportedly talks with Tim Conley, who built Denver into a real threat, but he decided to stay in the Rockies. There were rumors of Masai Ujiri coming to the District, but he has chosen to stay in Toronto after winning a title.

Making Sheppard the full-time GM provides some stability just as the Wizards reach their most important moment of the summer.

On July 26 the Wizards can offer star two guard Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million extension. The Wizards have been talking to Beal’s people and the offer will be made.

What Beal decides will decide the Wizards future for years. If Beal doesn’t sign that offer, the Wizards have to look at trading him. If he signs it, they need to build more around him.

Beal has spoken numerous times in the past about wanting to stay with the Wizards. However, there was plenty of informed speculation at Summer League that he is frustrated with the franchise and could choose to not sign it and essentially force his way out.

Either way, Beal’s decision will define the next steps for Sheppard for years.

 

Child tries to call out James Harden for step-back travels, he says it’s no travel

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If you tried this move in a high-school game 10 years ago, you would have been called for traveling.

In today’s NBA, as the rules are interpreted, James Harden‘s step back is not a travel.

At an event on Friday, a young fan tried to call Harden out on the travel and he defended himself. Via Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Harden’s stepback is not a travel (when he executes it properly). Even if it looks like it is.

Here is the play in question.

The official response — meaning from officials:

I know when you played Junior High basketball in 2002 that was a travel, but the NBA hasn’t called it that way in years.

The NBA rule here (Rule 10, Section XIII) simplified is a “gather and two steps.” Meaning one step while Harden is gathering the ball, plus two more. Nobody pushes the boundary of the gather step like Harden, he has mastered the grey area. But when he executes it properly — and he doesn’t every time — it’s not a travel.

No matter what that young boy’s father tells him.

Justin Holiday reportedly reaches deal with Pacers, will join forces with brother

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The Pacers just added the wing depth and some defense at the position they have been looking for.

It’s through someone they have long had their eye on, Justin Holiday, the six-year NBA veteran who split time last season between Chicago and Memphis. He has reached an agreement to join the Pacers — and his brother, Aaron Holiday — for a season in Indiana. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

The Pacers have been in touch with Holiday for a while, reports J. Michael of the Indy Star.

Holiday averaged 10.5 points a game last season, shot 34.7 percent from three, and played solid wing defense.

Victor Oladipo is the team’s best wing player, once he returns from injury (the Pacers are hoping around Christmas or a little after). Beyond him there is Jeremy Lamb, C.J. Wilcox, T.J. Warren, Doug McDermott, and Brian Bowen. Holiday can find minutes in that group.

This also sparks the dream of an all T.J./Holiday lineup. The Pacers have two Holidays, Justin and Aaron, as well as three un-related players named T.J. — T.J. McConnell, T.J. Warren, and T.J. Leaf. We need to see those five on the court together next season, if only for a few minutes.