One could find other important nuggets to talk about such as the drama between the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony. There are a few things going down between the Cleveland Cavaliers and their superstars, too.
The Lakers? No drama, just a fresh-feeling direction under Magic Johnson. Said direction hasn’t balked at bold moves such as the D’Angelo Russell trade or filling out the roster by finding a way to make big splashes like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Below, let’s catch up with the Lakers by taking a look at some of the bigger recent items surrounding the franchise.
Look how fast the rumblings around a player can change.
Just days ago, it seemed Jordan Clarkson could be on his way out at any minute. While a bit hyperbolic, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus had quite the interesting report: “One person within the organization who isn’t permitted to speak publicly on the subject told Bleacher Report the team is confident it can move Clarkson if needed to open space.”
This seems angled more at next offseason than right now, but other teams might have different plans when it comes to a 25-year-old guard who averaged 14.7 points last year, is an obvious trade chip and could get a bit lost in a backcourt featuring Lonzo Ball and KCP.
Since, though, Magic himself has had his say, according to Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters.
“He (Clarkson) is going to play a major role in us being a better team this year. We felt we put some weapons around him that would even make his game better. I have challenged him because I want him to be Sixth Man of the Year, so I’ve challenged him to play like that. I think he has the potential, the talent, he’s worked hard this summer.”
Magic clearly seems intent on keeping Clarkson around, which makes plenty of sense. He is one of the best depth players in the league at his spot, and more wins in the short term might increase the chances a LeBron James or Paul George pays attention if they actually hit the open market in 2018.
Clarkson playing well, of course, will also happen to increase his trade value. For now, it sounds like he’ll stick it out in Los Angeles despite rumors.
Now for a little lighthearted fun—kicks.
Shoes wouldn’t be a major point of conversation around the Lakers but…they signed up for the LaVar Ball experience when they drafted Lonzo.
Meaning, Lonzo will ride with his father’s Big Baller Brand and already has one signature shoe out called the ZO2, which infamously dropped with a $495 price tag. LaVar and the company failed to negotiate a deal with big companies like Nike or Adidas, the latter of which happens to handle a rather massive account on the Lakers.
Said account happens to belong to Brandon Ingram, who hasn’t been shy in saying he’d do recruiting for Adidas, per Winter’s colleague, Trevor Lane: “Although Ingram said that he generally doesn’t talk sneakers with Lonzo, the second-year forward added that he would be happy to pitch his new Lakers teammate on Adidas if the company asked him.”
Ingram is a good representation of the pressure Ball will constantly face over the course of his career from players around the league. It’s why someone like Minnesota Timberwolves superstar Andrew Wiggins has already talked about trying to bring Ball to Adidas, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Ben Golliver: “[Lonzo] should come to the best thing that’s happening. Come to the family. If he has something great going on, then that’s him. Their whole [Ball] family has something good going on.”
Again, this wouldn’t be a major storyline around most teams. But the Lakers aren’t most teams, and fans will hear about this in almost endless fashion for at least the duration of Ball’s rookie year—regardless of whether the team is winning or losing.
Lakers Make Two Moves
The Lakers had seemed to hold out hope they could make some sort of big splash with the few remaining open roster spots after the KCP deal.
But the problem was the KCP deal—Magic and the front office gave the surprise free agent a front-loaded deal to keep cap space wide open next summer but in doing so maybe cost the team a reliable backcourt veteran who went on to sign for more cash elsewhere.
None of this is meant to suggest the Lakers didn’t use up the final roster spots well—because they did.
First up was the signing of Thomas Bryant, the No. 42 pick by the Lakers this year out of Indiana. At the collegiate level, Bryant impressed teams like the Lakers because of his defensive energy and ability to hit shots from range (38.3 percent from three-point range a year ago), a requirement of bigs in the NBA these days.
Lakers Nation’s Ryan Ward was one of many to hype the news:
For those unfamiliar, Blue is a 2013 undrafted free agent who has experience with a few different teams, including the Lakers. He made a splash as of late by hoisting the 2016-17 D-League MVP award on the back of an impressive scoring showcase.
Blue’s arrival provides some direct competition to Tyler Ennis behind Ball. While it’s not the Rajon Rondo or Derrick Rose-esque veteran presence the front office might’ve preferred, the signing sticks with the upside-minded theme of the offseason.
All that remains is getting the upside to match the hype—no matter what brand of shoes the players have draped around their ankles.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
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