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Justin Harper back with the D-Fenders

Justin Harper back with the D-Fenders

The Los Angeles D-Fenders have reacquired forward Justin Harper following the completion of his 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, it was announced today.

Harper (6-10, 225) appeared in three games after signing with the Sixers on March 3, averaging 4.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per contest. In 37 games (all starts) with the D-Fenders this season, the two-time NBA D-League All-Star has averaged 16.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Additionally, Harper is shooting 49.1 percent from the field this season, including a 40.1 clip from three-point range.

Harper and the D-Fenders will be back on the court against the Iowa Energy at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard David Nwaba to a second 10-day contract, General Manager Rob Pelinka announced today.

Nwaba (6-5, 204) averaged 2.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 11.2 minutes through five games after earning an NBA Call-Up with the Lakers on February 28. He originally joined the club from the team’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, where he played in 39 games (30 starts), averaging 14.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks in 29.0 minutes per contest.

The Lakers roster stands at 15.

Nick Young’s house burglarized

The celebrity burglary thiefstravaganza continues … this time, crooks struck the L.A. home of Lakers star Nick Young (again!) and made off with $500k in cash and jewelry after taking his entire safe!!!

Law enforcement sources confirm … Young’s Valley residence was hit in February when the bad guys entered through an unlocked door and pilfered the NBA star’s valuables.

We’re told crooks took roughly $30k in cash plus 3 gold chains, a custom ring and a locked safe containing other valuables.

– TMZ Sports

Here’s the Orange County Register reporting on the Lakers, who have one of the league’s worst records but also boast an intriguing cast of young talent:

Luke Walton concerned that the Lakers are a soft team

The outcome seemed as inevitable as Dirk Nowitzki sinking a fadeaway jumper.

The Lakers suffered a 122-111 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at American Airlines Center, marking their eighth consecutive loss overall and the fourth consecutive year they were swept by the Mavericks in the regular-season series.

Afterward, Lakers coach Luke Walton echoed a criticism former Lakers coach Byron Scott often had last season when he called the team “soft.”

“Teams feel like when they play us right now, we’re kind of a soft team that they can come in to get their offensive numbers against,” Walton said. “That’s got to be up to us to change that.”

Walton expressed optimism the Lakers (19-45) will eventually do that.

Lakers hire Rob Pelinka as GM

The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Rob Pelinka as General Manager.

Pelinka, 47, joins the Lakers after spending the greater part of two decades representing many of the NBA’s top talent. During his tenure as an agent, Pelinka was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the Top 10 Sports Agents in the World. In his role, Pelinka will report to Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss and President of Basketball Operations, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

“We have worked closely with Rob for many years and have first-hand experience with his knowledge of the league and the business of basketball,” said Buss. “In our recent discussions, it was clear that he also shares our goal of returning the Lakers to being an elite NBA franchise. Together with Earvin and Coach Walton, I believe we are in a great position to bring winning basketball back to the Lakers.”

“Rob’s knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable,” said Johnson. “After running a successful sports agency and as someone who truly understands the inner workings of salary caps and player negotiations, he will bring the additional skills and experience needed in the Lakers executive office. Rob is a winner and the Lakers are fortunate to have him.”

The Lake Forest, Illinois native earned his B.B.A. from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan with high honors in 1993, before receiving his J.D., Cum Laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1996. While at Michigan, Pelinka earned a 1989 National Championship as a member of the Wolverines basketball team and also took part in three NCAA Final Fours (1989, 1992 & 1993).

“I am beyond grateful to join the Lakers front office,” said Pelinka. “The Lakers are a gold standard for sports franchises in the world, so we all share a responsibility to pursue excellence in everything we do. Excellence is what the Lakers stands for, what Jeanie Buss and Earvin Johnson embody, and what Coach Walton demands from our players. That obsession for greatness is what will bring Lakers basketball back to a championship level. With Jeanie and Magic guiding the vision, I am thrilled to help architect the future. I am really excited to get to work.”

Lakers waive Jose Calderon

Lakers waive Jose Calderon

The Los Angeles Lakers have waived guard José Calderón, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Calderón (6-3, 200) appeared in 24 games (11 starts) for the Lakers this season, averaging 3.3 points, 2.1 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game.

The Lakers roster now stands at 14.

Rockets trade Tyler Ennis, Brad Newley draft rights to Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired guard Tyler Ennis and the draft rights to guard/forward Brad Newley from the Houston Rockets in exchange for guard Marcelo Huertas, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Ennis has appeared in 31 games for the Rockets this season, averaging 1.9 points and 1.1 assists in 6.3 minutes per game. Formerly the 18th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, he owns career averages of 3.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 110 games with Phoenix, Milwaukee and Houston.

Newley was selected by the Rockets with the 54th overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft. A two-time representative for Australia’s Olympic team, he currently plays for AEK Athens in Greece.

Huertas averaged 3.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 76 games with the Lakers.

Lakers trade Lou Williams to Rockets

Lakers trade Lou Williams to Rockets

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has acquired guard Lou Williams from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for guard/forward Corey Brewer and the Rockets first round pick in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft.

“This trade allows us to continue on the path of building something special, while maintaining future flexibility within the organization,” President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson said. “Additionally, Corey is a proven veteran that will make a positive impact on our team right away.”

Brewer, 30, has appeared in 58 games (eight starts) for the Rockets this season, averaging 4.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 15.9 minutes per game. Originally drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the seventh overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Brewer has averaged 9.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists through 687 career NBA games. The former Florida standout was a two-time NCAA champion before winning an NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.

Williams was originally the 45th overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2005 NBA Draft out of South Gwinnett High School near Atlanta. In 12 NBA seasons, he is averaging 12.8 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.1 rebounds in 759 career games with 90 starts. Williams was Sixth Man of the Year while playing for Toronto in 2014-15.

This season, Williams is averaging a career-high 18.6 points in just 24.2 minutes per game. In NBA history, the only player to average at least 18.0 points in 25.0 or fewer minutes played was Freeman Williams (19.3 ppg in 24.1 mpg) for San Diego in 1980-81. Williams also ranks fifth in the NBA in fourth quarter scoring this season with 7.7 ppg. He scored a total of 137 points off the bench over a four-game stretch from Dec. 3 through Dec. 9, marking the highest four-game total by a reserve since starts were tracked by the NBA in 1970-71.

Williams is shooting 44.4% from the floor this season, which would be his highest percentage since shooting a career-best 47.0% in 2009-10. He is averaging over two 3-pointers made for this first time in his career on a career-high 38.6% shooting. Williams is also shooting a career-best 88.4% from the line this season and 82.5% for his career.

Of reserves with more than one appearance this season, Williams has the highest scoring average at 18.7 points per game. Houston’s Eric Gordon is second with 17.5 ppg. Dating back to 2007-08, Williams has the highest point total (7,918) of any reserve in the NBA. Over that 10 season span, he also has made 348 more free throws than any reserve has attempted.

Lakers fire PR head John Black

The Lakers made big changes today, putting Magic Johnson in charge of the roster and saying goodbye to Mitch Kupchak, who has been a big part of the front office for a very long time. They also made a big change in their PR department.

The Lakers also announced they have parted ways with John Black who had been the Lakers Vice President of Public Relations for many years. Chief Operating Officer Tim Harris will immediately begin a search for a replacement.

Jeanie Buss added, “We thank John for his many years of service.”

Lakers hire Magic Johnson, fire Mitch Kupchak

Los Angeles Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss announced today that the team has named Earvin “Magic” Johnson as President of Basketball Operations.

In addition, General Manager Mitch Kupchak has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately.

Furthermore, Jim Buss will no longer hold his role as Lakers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

“Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss said. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”

“It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson. “Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”

According to the Orange County Register, “Jeanie Buss made the sweeping changes just two days before the NBA’s trade deadline. The Lakers are 19-39 this season, plummeting out of contention after an encouraging 10-10 start under new coach Luke Walton, who got a strong vote of confidence from Jeanie Buss. The Lakers are mired in the worst four-year stretch in franchise history, missing the playoffs in three consecutive years with their three worst records ever. They finished 17-65 last season, a franchise low in the last year of Kobe Bryant’s two-decade run with the franchise.”

Jeanie Buss added, “I took these actions today to achieve one goal: Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by Earvin and myself. We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again.”

Regarding Mitch Kupchak, Jeanie Buss stated, “We are grateful for the many contributions Mitch has made to the Lakers over the years and we wish him all the best.”

With regard to fellow owner and brother, Jim Buss, Ms. Buss said, “Jim loves the Lakers. Although he will no longer be responsible for basketball personnel decisions, he is an owner of this team and we share the same goal: returning the Lakers to the level of greatness our father demanded. Our fans deserve no less.”

More from the OC Register: “Though he had initially said in a Spectrum Sports Interview that Jim Buss was in charge, Johnson said in subsequent interviews with CBS and ESPN that he would like to be in charge. Johnson has Hall of Fame credentials as a five-time NBA champion with the Showtime Lakers. But he has no front office experience.”

Vander Blue named D-League Performer of Week

Vander Blue of the Los Angeles D-Fenders today was named NBA Development League Performer of the Week for games played Monday, Jan. 23, through Sunday, Jan. 29.

Blue (6-4, Marquette) led Los Angeles to a 2-0 week, averaging 32.5 points (second in the league) on 45.0 percent shooting to go with 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals. On Jan. 26, with the D-Fenders trailing 119-112 with 2:25 to play, Blue connected on back-to-back three-pointers and added two free throws to secure a 125-120 victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He finished the game with 37 points and seven rebounds. On Jan. 29, Blue tallied 28 points, nine rebounds and three steals in a 132-104 win over the Austin Spurs.

Blue, who has scored at least 30 points seven times this season, is averaging 25.5 points (third in the league), 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals. This is the second Performer of the Week award for Blue this season.

Other top performers considered included Canton’s Chris Evans and Eric Moreland, Delaware’s Shawn Long, Erie’s Kalin Lucas, Iowa’s Jarell Martin, Maine’s Jalen Jones and Ryan Kelly, Northern Arizona’s Elijah Millsap, Oklahoma City’s Daniel Hamilton, Rio Grande Valley’s Darius Morris, Santa Cruz’s Phil Pressey and Scott Wood and Texas’ C.J. Williams.

Lakers beat injured Clippers on Xmas Day

Lakers beat injured Clippers on Xmas Day

A win offers breathing room for the Los Angeles Lakers, and on Christmas Day, they got some.

Fittingly, Laker Nick Young hit the game’s last field goal. He is the only Laker who was also on the team in 2013, the last time the Lakers beat the Clippers before an 11-game losing streak — the longest such streak they’ve had to any team since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.

Below are five takeaways from last night’s 111-102 victory.

1. The L.A. Clippers were shorthanded, missing starters Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Raymond Felton, the point guard who started, was battling a fever, and J.J. Redick left the game in the second half with an injury. But the Lakers have also been hurting for most of December. That led Young to offer this: “ A win is a win. Nobody cared when we were hurt and injured. Why should we?”

2. In the second quarter, Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram picked up a technical foul. That call seemed to energize him, and he was suddenly more aggressive and assertive offensively.

LA Times

Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr., who suffered an injury to his left knee December 20 at Charlotte, was examined prior to Sunday’s game by team physician Dr. David McAllister of UCLA Health. The diagnosis is a bone bruise.

Nance Jr. is expected to be out approximately four weeks.

The Lakers are 12-22 this season, which is the 11th best record in the Western conference.

The team’s leading scorer this season has been guard Louis Williams, averaging 18.7 ppg. Williams has come off the bench for all 34 of his games this year.

Larry Nance, Jr knee injury update

Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance, Jr., who suffered an injury to his left knee in last night’s game in Charlotte, had an MRI exam today in Miami. Results showed a bone bruise, which will keep Nance, Jr. out indefinitely, but further results were inconclusive due to swelling in the knee. He will be re-examined by team physician Dr. David McAllister of UCLA Health on Sunday in Los Angeles, and an update will be given at that time.

Luke Walton reflects on Craig Sager

Whenever Luke Walton turned on a nationally televised NBA game, the Lakers coach did not just tune in to watch a star player or scout an opponent. Walton also wanted to see sideline reporter Craig Sager.

“Part of the fun and entertainment of what we do is seeing Craig in his crazy suits. He was phenomenal at his job,” Walton said. “He brought something every night he was on TV.”

So it was no surprise when the Lakers and the NBA community were in mourning Thursday over the passing of Sager, 65, who had spent the past two years fighting cancer. All NBA teams will observe a moment of silence in Sager’s memory, including when the Lakers (10-18) play the Philadelphia 76ers (6-19) on Friday at Wells Fargo Center.

“I can’t imagine how hard that has got to be, to put on that face and come and do the job that you love knowing that you’re not at your best,” Walton said. “You’re still out there fighting that fight and not letting it beat you. He’s not just staying home all day. He’s out there still living his life as long as he can. It’s incredible. He’s a strong, strong man.”

– OC Register

Lakers on six game losing streak

Lakers on six game losing streak

If only the Lakers could address their issues as soon as Nick Young shook his rust off.

For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Lakers fielded their starting backcourt that played a large part in their offense quickly becoming one of the NBA’s most prolific. But the Lakers showed in their 118-112 loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday at Staples Center that it will take more than D’Angelo Russell building his rhythm again to stop the team’s six-game losing streak.

Russell admittedly “felt out of rhythm” as he had three points on 1-of-8 shooting and four turnovers with a minute restriction (18) that included sitting out in the fourth quarter. Russell could shake off that rust when the Lakers (10-16) play against the Sacramento Kings (8-15) on Monday at Golden 1 Center to open a seven-game trip. Young might build off of his 15-point effort on 6-of-11 shooting despite not even completing any games of 3-on-3 in Saturday’s practice.

But the Lakers (10-16) will also have to fix a poor defense that Lakers forward Julius Randle called “embarrassing” for understandable reasons.

– Orange County Register

Quick Take: Despite the recent losing streak, the Lakers are in 9th place in the West, which isn’t that bad considering how young the Laker squad is and the injuries they’ve dealt with so far this season. Above them in the West standings in 8th place are the Trail Blazers. The biggest Laker problem this season has been their awful defense, so pay extra attention to the squad on that side of the floor.

Lakers dealing with multiple injuries

Lakers dealing with multiple injuries

When Lakers coach Luke Walton and his staff meet before every game to finalize offensive sets and defensive schemes, they often tackle another question. Who do we start?

Finding themselves without D’Angelo Russell (left knee), Nick Young (right leg) and Jose Calderon (right hamstring) in recent weeks, those conversations have become more difficult.

As the Lakers were reminded in their 134-95 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday at Toyota Center, seemingly none of the combinations they have tried since the slew of injuries has adequately addressed the team’s diminished backcourt situation or its slow starts. On Wednesday, Walton started seldom-used guard Marcelo Huertas at point guard and inserted reserve Jordan Clarkson into the starting shooting guard spot he assumed for all of the 2015-16 season.

– OC Register

Quick Take:  The Lakers are 10-14 this season, which is solid considering they’ve lost four games in a row and seven of their last 10. Earlier in the season when they enjoyed good health, they were one of the most fun teams to watch in the league. There’s no reason why they can’t resume that once the squad is complete again.

Jose Calderon out 2-4 weeks with hamstring strain

Lakers guard Jose Calderon, who was injured in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game in Memphis, was evaluated and had an MRI by team orthopedist Dr. David McAllister of UCLA Health. The results confirmed a right hamstring strain, which is expected to sideline Calderón 2-4 weeks.

In 14 games (nine starts) this season for the Lakers, Calderón is averaging 4.7 points, 2.6 assists, and 2.2 rebounds in 13.9 minutes per game while shooting 41.7% from three-point range.

Lakers assign Ivica Zubac to D-League

The Los Angeles Lakers have assigned center Ivica Zubac to the Los Angeles D-Fenders, it was announced today.

Zubac was selected by the Lakers with the 32nd overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and has appeared in three games for the team this season.

The center is expected to be in uniform when the D-Fenders host the Rio Grande Valley Vipers at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Toyota Sports Center.

As a kid, Nick Young wanted to be a Hollywood stunt man

Before a superstar girlfriend made him tabloid royalty and before a video leak made him a pariah; before one coach sent him to the bench and a new one rescued him from it; before he was Swaggy P or could even dunk, Nicholas Young wanted to be in the movies.

Specifically, he yearned for a life as a Hollywood stunt man.

His mother, Mae, took Nick and his brothers to Universal Studios and the future Lakers guard became enamored with the anonymous role players who ran through fire and fought with swords and scaled walls without suffering a scratch.

At home, Nick jumped off the roof of the garage and the family’s Culver City apartment. He built ramps in the street to perform bicycle tricks.

“He was a very difficult child,” Mae Young, Nick’s mother, said, “because he was constantly bruised and cut and scraped up.”

– Orange County Register

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