Los Angeles Lakers

Extension Candidate: Julius Randle

For the third straight season, Julius Randle made progress establishing himself as a significant factor in the Lakers’ frontcourt. However, that progress won’t impact whether or not the 22-year-old inks a contract extension prior to the October 16th deadline.Julius Randle vertical

No, Randle’s fate – perhaps more than any other player headed into the final year of a rookie contract – is tied to the lofty ambitions of the franchise that he plays for.

Put simply, the Lakers are all-in on preserving cap space for the 2018 free agency period — a period in which they’ll inevitably pursue LeBron James and Paul George. Or LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. Or LeBron James and any other star player who opts to test the waters next summer, it really just depends on which barber you ask.

This isn’t a knock on Randle. It’s a reality. The same reality that saw L.A. ship D’Angelo Russell out of town just to alleviate the club’s $16MM obligation to Timofey Mozgov in 2018/19.

Signing Randle to any extension in the realm of what he would justifiably qualify for before the October deadline would unnecessarily eat into the room that the Lakers would need in order to make a big, nay, massive splash next offseason. As it stands, Los Angeles has just under $54MM on their books for the 2018/19 season and you can bet the farm that they club will do anything within reason to unload Luol Deng‘s 18MM as soon as conceivably possible.

Of course, the Lakers can always circle back to Randle as a restricted free agent once they have a better idea of how their 2018 offseason will play out, but that obviously comes with inherent risk. It’s not inconceivable that Randle will raise his value this season and coax an aggressive offer sheet out of a team with cap space to burn.

So the question isn’t whether Randle will earn a contract extension in the next month – that almost certainly won’t happen – but rather if his play thus far has warranted it.

In his two full seasons with the Lakers, Randle has averaged just under a double double, putting up 12.2 PPG and 9.4 RPG while flashing impressive vision for a post player and a handle reminiscent of a slightly less polished Blake Griffin (that’s still a good thing).

Randle’s per-36 numbers ooze Zach Randolph-esque potential and the fact that he’s a productive contributor who doesn’t require much of the spotlight bodes well for a Lakers team that has every intention of filling the lineup around him with stars.

Expect Randle, already a competent third or fourth option, to take yet another step forward in 2017/18. The power forward has committed to improving his physical conditioning this summer and will now play alongside Lonzo Ball, one of the most exciting playmakers to come into the league in years.

We saw excellent rebound and assist rates out of Randle last season, as well as a modest 13.2 points per contest. That last figure could jump up to a more headline-worthy level, conveniently ahead of July 2018, when he hits the market for the first time.

If the pending restricted free agent drives his value to a level that precludes Los Angeles from retaining him, then that’s simply a consequence of the Lakers’ own ambition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Brook Lopez Happy To Play At Home

Lakers Notes: Bogut, Walton, Ball, Ingram

The one-year, $2.3MM contract Andrew Bogut signed with the Lakers is only guaranteed for $50K, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Bogut and his agent spent the summer trying to convince teams there would be no lingering effects from the broken left tibia he suffered in March while with the Cavaliers. Other organizations expressed interest, but Bogut opted for the Lakers, even though the guarantee is extremely low for a veteran of his caliber.

The 32-year-old center was plagued by injuries last year, well before the mishap in Cleveland. Knee and hamstring issues limited him to just 26 games in Dallas before he was shipped to Philadelphia at the February trade deadline. Bogut’s agent, David Bauman, said last week that a CT scan showed a “complete healing” of the break. If that means Bogut can contribute the way he did in Golden State, the Lakers may have nabbed a major bargain.

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • GM Rob Pelinka said Bogut was signed because the team needs a defensive presence in the middle, tweets Serena Winters of LakersNation.com. Pelinka said the Lakers were among the worst teams in the league last season at stopping opponents at the rim, and he sees Bogut as a “paint protector.” Coach Luke Walton, who talked to Bogut on the phone before the signing, is excited about what he can bring. “It was a very honest conversation about where he’s at and where we’re at and what possible minutes would be at,” Walton explained, “and I said I would obviously love to have you, you can anchor our defense, the way you can pass the ball, the fact that you are a champion around our young players is something that can be huge for us.”
  • The addition of Lonzo Ball should transform a team that was in the bottom five last season in assist percentage, writes Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer. Observers raved about Ball’s passing and court vision as the Lakers captured the Las Vegas Summer League title, and Uggetti thinks those skills will be even more evident with veteran teammates. However, he expects L.A. to keep struggling on defense, although the signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will help on the perimeter, and believes another 50-loss season might lie ahead.
  • After a summer filled with roster upheaval, Ball and Brandon Ingram are the only players certain to be long-term Lakers, according to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report.

Andre Iguodala Nearly Signed With Rockets In Free Agency

An eventful series of free agent meetings in July had Andre Iguodala on the verge of signing with the Rockets before the Warriors swooped in and met his demands at the last minute, Chris Haynes writes in a fascinating piece for ESPN.com.

Back on July 1, we heard that Iguodala was expected to circle back to Golden State after getting an offer he liked from Houston, but Haynes goes into far more detail in describing the process that got Iguodala to that point. Here are a few highlights from the ESPN report:

  • As free agency opened, the Warriors increased their initial offer for Iguodala to $42MM over three years, with a partial guarantee in year three, according to Haynes. However, the swingman wasn’t satisfied with Golden State’s pitch and opted to take meetings with several suitors rather than accepting the Dubs’ offer.
  • The Lakers were the first team to speak with Iguodala, but as was the case throughout free agency, L.A. only offered one year, aiming to preserve 2018 cap room. The Lakers’ one-year offer was worth $20MM, per Haynes.
  • Iguodala met with the Spurs next, and San Antonio offered a fully guaranteed four-year deal. The Spurs only had their mid-level exception to offer, meaning they couldn’t offer more than about $36MM, but Iguodala – who likes being involved in the tech world – was intrigued by the team’s proximity to Austin.
  • The Kings met with Iguodala next and, armed with about $43MM in cap room, essentially asked him to name his price — within reason. If Iguodala named a price that Sacramento was willing to match, the Kings wanted a commitment on the spot, according to Haynes. Not wanting to commit right away, the 33-year-old held off on specifics, but recognized that Sacramento likely had the means to offer him the most money.
  • The Rockets were the next team to make a pitch to Iguodala, and one source within his camp called it “the best recruiting presentation of all time,” per Haynes. Houston was limited to its mid-level exception, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey began proposing “lucrative sign-and-trade scenarios like a mad scientist” in an effort to meet Iguodala’s demands. Following the meeting with the Rockets, Iguodala cancelled his remaining meetings, including sit-downs with the Sixers, Clippers, Timberwolves, and Jazz, and there was “a strong sentiment that he was Houston-bound.”
  • Iguodala decided to meet one last time with the Warriors, though he expected to use the meeting as an opportunity to say goodbye, sources tell Haynes. Golden State offered a fully guaranteed three-year, $45MM deal, but Iguodala wasn’t budging from his asking price of $16MM per year, and intended to sign with the Rockets if Golden State didn’t meet that demand.
  • Shortly after Iguodala’s meeting with the Warriors ended, GM Bob Myers went to team owner Joe Lacob to ask for a little more money, and received approval to offer $48MM over three years, which was enough to bring Iguodala back into the fold.

Lakers Sign Andrew Bogut To One-Year Deal

SEPTEMBER 19: The signing is official, Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group relays on Twitter.

SEPTEMBER 18: The Lakers have reached an agreement with free agent center Andrew Bogut, agent David Bauman tells Shams Charania of The Vertical. According to Charania, Bogut will sign a one-year contract with Los Angeles. David Aldridge of TNT adds (via Twitter) that the deal will be worth the veteran minimum, while ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweets that it’ll be partially guaranteed.Andrew Bogut vertical

Bogut, who will turn 33 in November, began last season with the Mavericks, appearing in 26 games (21 starts) for Dallas before being traded to the Sixers in a deadline deal. He was subsequently bought out by Philadelphia and joined the Cavaliers as a free agent, but fractured his tibia in his first game with his new team, ending his season.

Bauman suggested last week that a CT scan on Bogut’s tibia showed “complete healing,” with a radiology report showing that the center’s leg is “solidly united.” With a medical green light, Bogut was expected to find a new NBA home quickly, and ultimately landed with the Lakers, who will add him to a promising frontcourt that already features Brook Lopez, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, and rookies Kyle Kuzma and Thomas Bryant.

[RELATED: Lakers’ depth chart at RosterResource.com]

Even if he’s fully healthy heading into the 2017/18 season, Bogut likely won’t make a major on-court impact at this point in his career — since the start of the 2012/13 season, he has been a role player, averaging 5.9 PPG in 23.5 minutes per contest. Still, he has provided reliable rim protecting and rebounding, chipping in 1.6 BPG and 8.2 RPG during that stretch, so he could have some value in L.A.’s rotation.

According to Aldridge (via Twitter), the Timberwolves made a “major pitch” to Bogut, and the Celtics and Cavaliers were in the mix too. However, the former first overall pick liked L.A.’s “vibe,” not to mention the opportunity to reunite with head coach Luke Walton, who played a part in recruiting the ex-Warrior (Twitter link). While Boston was frequently linked to Bogut during his free agency, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) suspects the Celtics didn’t push overly hard to land him.

The Lakers entered the day with 19 players under contract, so their roster will be at the 20-man offseason maximum when they finalize their agreement with Bogut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Los Angeles Notes: Bogut, Lakers, Gallinari

After reaching an agreement on Monday to sign Andrew Bogut, the Lakers are starting to create a logjam at the center position, where Bogut figures to join youngsters Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant as backups to Brook Lopez. However, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register suggests there are at least a couple reasons why it make sense for the club to add Bogut to complement Lopez.

As Oram explains, Lopez is more of an offensive-minded player, so Bogut will add more rim protecting and rebounding to the roster. Oram also suggests that Bogut will provide insurance against Lopez’s health. The former Net has dealt with some back issues this summer and may miss part of the preseason as a result.

Of course, while Lopez was once considered injury-prone, he has been healthy enough to appear in at least 72 games in each of the last three seasons, while Bogut has been the one battling more frequent and more recent injury issues. We’ll have to wait to see whether either veteran center can stay on the court for the entire 2017/18 season.

Here’s more from out of Los Angeles:

  • In his breakdown of the Bogut deal, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) acknowledges that the fit with the Lakers is somewhat “perplexing.” Pelton doesn’t want to see Zubac or Bryant denied any opportunities to earn playing time, since they’re better bets than Bogut to stick with the Lakers beyond 2017/18.
  • The Lakers announced a handful of basketball operations hires and promotions this week, confirming the moves in a press release. Among the most notable promotions was Jordan Wilkes being named the club’s director of player development.
  • New Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari is just “days away” from returning from the hand injury he suffered in July, and should be ready to go for training camp next week, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

NBA’s Board Of Governors To Examine Revenue Sharing System

ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst have published an expansive and well-researched report on NBA teams’ finances, providing details on the league’s revenue sharing system, the impact from national and local television deals, and how a lack of net income for NBA franchises could push the league toward considering relocation or expansion.

The report is wide-ranging and detailed, so we’re going to tackle it by dividing it up into several sections, but it’s certainly worth reading in full to get a better picture of whether things stand in the NBA. Let’s dive in…

Which teams are losing money?

  • Nine teams reportedly lost money last season, even after revenue sharing. Those clubs were the Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Grizzlies, Magic, Wizards, Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs. The latter two teams – Cleveland and San Antonio – initially came out ahead, but paid into the league’s revenue sharing program, pushing them into the red.
  • Meanwhile, the Hornets, Kings, Pacers, Pelicans, Suns, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers also would have lost money based on net income if not for revenue sharing, according to Lowe and Windhorst.
  • As a league, the NBA is still doing very well — the overall net income for the 30 teams combined was $530MM, per ESPN. That number also only takes into account basketball income, and doesn’t include income generated via non-basketball events for teams that own their arenas.
  • The players’ union and its economists have long been skeptical of NBA teams’ bookkeeping, alleging that clubs are using techniques to make themselves appear less profitable than they actually are, Windhorst and Lowe note. The union has the power to conduct its own audit of several teams per season, and it has begun to take advantage of that power — according to ESPN, the union audited five teams last season, and the new CBA will allow up to 10 teams to be audited going forward.

How does the gap between large and small market teams impact income?

  • Even after paying $49MM in revenue sharing, the Lakers finished the 2016/17 with a $115MM profit in terms of net income, per ESPN. That was the highest profit in the NBA, ahead of the second-place Warriors, and could be attributed in large part to the $149MM the Lakers received from their huge local media rights deals.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies earned a league-low $9.4MM in local media rights, which significantly affected their bottom line — even after receiving $32MM in revenue sharing, Memphis lost money for the season. The Grizzlies will start a new TV deal this year that should help boost their revenue, but it still won’t come anywhere close to matching deals like the Lakers‘.
  • The biggest local TV deals help drive up the NBA’s salary cap, with teams like the Lakers and Knicks earning in excess of $100MM from their media agreements. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks made $10MM more on their TV deal than the six lowest-earning teams combined.
  • As one owner explained to ESPN, “National revenues drive up the cap, but local revenues are needed to keep up with player salaries. If a team can’t generate enough local revenues, they lose money.”
  • Playoff revenue from a big-market team like the Warriors also helps push up the salary cap. Sources tell Lowe and Windhorst that Golden State made about $44.3MM in net income from just nine home playoff games last season, more than doubling the playoff revenue of the next-best team (the Cavaliers at about $20MM).

How is revenue sharing affecting teams’ earnings?

  • Ten teams paid into the NBA’s revenue sharing system in 2016/17, with 15 teams receiving that money. The Sixers, Raptors, Nets, Heat, and Mavericks neither paid nor received any revenue sharing money. Four teams – the Warriors, Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks – accounted for $144MM of the total $201MM paid in revenue sharing.
  • While there’s general agreement throughout the NBA that revenue sharing is working as intended, some teams have “bristled about the current scale of monetary redistribution,” according to ESPN. “The need for revenue sharing was supposed to be for special circumstances, not permanent subsidies,” one large-market team owner said.
  • The Grizzlies, Hornets, Pacers, Bucks, and Jazz have each received at least $15MM apiece in each of the last four years via revenue sharing.
  • However, not all small-market teams receive revenue-sharing money — if a team outperforms its expectations based on market size, it forfeits its right to that money. For instance, the Thunder and Spurs have each paid into revenue sharing for the last six years.

Why might league-wide income issues lead to relocation or expansion?

  • At least one team owner has raised the idea of expansion, since an expansion fee for a new franchise could exceed $1 billion and it wouldn’t be subject to splitting 50/50 with players. A $1 billion expansion fee split 30 ways would work out to $33MM+ per team.
  • Meanwhile, larger-market teams who aren’t thrilled about their revenue-sharing fees have suggested that small-market clubs losing money every year should consider relocating to bigger markets, sources tell ESPN.
  • As Lowe and Windhorst observe, the Pistons – who lost more money than any other team last season – are undergoing a relocation of sorts, moving from the suburbs to downtown Detroit, in the hopes that the move will help boost revenue.

What are the next steps? Are changes coming?

  • The gap between the most and least profitable NBA teams is expected to be addressed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting next week, per Lowe and Windhorst. Team owners have scheduled a half-day review of the league’s revenue sharing system.
  • Obviously, large- and small-market teams view the issue differently. While some large-market teams have complained about the revenue sharing system, they’re outnumbered, with smaller-market teams pushing those more successful clubs to share more of their profits, according to ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is one of the loudest voices pushing for more “robust” revenue sharing, sources tell ESPN. Some team owners have argued that the system should ensure all teams make a profit, while one even suggested every team should be guaranteed a $20MM profit. There will be “pushback” on those ideas, Lowe and Windhorst note. “This is a club where everyone knows the rules when they buy in,” one owner said.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, some teams have floated the idea of limiting the amount of revenue sharing money a team can receive if it has been taking payments for several consecutive years.
  • Any change to the revenue sharing system that is formally proposed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting would require a simple majority (16 votes to 14) to pass.

Brandon Ingram's Pursuit Of Progress; Kobe's Jersey Retirement

After an uninspiring rookie season, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram has been devoted to working on his jumpshot and adding to his frame. The 20-year-old has been lifting weights, eating better and intentionally trying to eat more, Mike Trudell of the team’s official website writes.

  • Rather than decide which of Kobe Bryant‘s jersey numbers to retire, the Lakers decided to put them both in the rafters, the team’s official website said. The ceremony will take place on December 18.
  • Lakers guard Josh Hart has his priorities straight and knows just how he wants to contribute to his team in Year 1. “For me, defense is personal,” Hart told the team’s official website. “Obviously it’s tough to stop people one on one. But when you have that mind set of taking this personal; it’s just you and the other guy, and there’s one ball. And one person’s gonna eat, and I want that to be me.”

15 Two-Way Contract Slots Remain Open

With NBA training camps just a couple weeks away, most teams are putting the finishing touches on their respective rosters. In addition to having secured at least a dozen players on guaranteed contracts and perhaps a handful of camp invitees, each NBA club has also signed at least one player to a two-way contract.

As we explain in depth in our FAQ, two-way contracts – a new concept under the league’s latest Collective Bargaining Agreement – allow NBA teams to carry two extra players in addition to the 15 on their regular season roster. These players spend most of their time with the club’s G League affiliate, but are eligible to join the NBA roster for up to 45 days per season, and remain under team control — they can’t be poached by rival franchises.

Teams have been signing players to two-way contracts since July, so we’re starting to get a better idea of what players on those deals will look like — some are late second-round draft picks; some are undrafted rookies; others are G League or international veterans, or former NBA players looking to work their way back into the league.

Every NBA club has signed at least one player to a two-way deal, but only half of those 30 clubs have filled both spots, meaning that there are still 15 two-way openings around the league. With the help of our two-way tracker, here’s a breakdown of the teams that still have an open two-way slot:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Houston Rockets
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Miami Heat
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Portland Trail Blazers

While the Suns and Jazz technically could be included on this list, they’ve reportedly reached agreements – with Alec Peters and Nate Wolters, respectively – to fill their second two-way slots, so unless those deals unexpectedly fall through, they won’t have any openings.

Although some of these two-way openings figure to be filled in advance of training camp, many of the clubs listed above have signed camp invitees to Exhibit 10 contracts, which can later be converted into two-way deals. So rather than signing someone new and waiving a camp invitee, a handful of teams may simply convert an Exhibit 10 contract to a two-way contract before the regular season begins.

Magic Johnson Turned Down Warriors, Pistons, Knicks

Magic Johnson passed on front office positions with three teams before becoming president of basketball operations for the Lakers, he said this morning on ESPN’s First Take (Twitter link).

The Hall of Famer claimed the Warriors, Pistons and Knicks all made offers that he turned down because he had a sense of loyalty to the Lakers.

“My good friends Peter and Joe Lacob bought the Golden State Warriors. They came to me. ‘I want you to be an owner, be a partner with us.’ I said no, I’m a Laker,” Johnson recalled. “My friend bought the Detroit Pistons, Tom Gores, and a Michigan State guy. ‘Come on home. It’ll be a great story.’ I can’t; I’m a Laker. I could have owned other teams.”

The panel also brought up the Knicks, who reportedly expressed interest in Johnson.

The Lakers hired Johnson to serve as team president in February after a front office purge that resulted in the dismissal of executive Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak.

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