Talk of Dwight Howard's departure has over-saturated the market for weeks now, with everyone ready and willing to give their hot takes on what this means for the Lakers franchise. Replacing Howard with a motley crew of veterans that includes Chris Kaman, Nick Young and draft-bust Wesley Johnson hasn't helped matters, either.
But that situation has reached the point where it's beyond any notable analysis. Howard is a Rocket. Nothing is going to change that, and the Lakers franchise has to move forward with what they have—even if it means giving significant playing time to guys barely hanging on in the league.
Last week saw some glimmers of hope for the Lakers, when owner Jim Buss told ESPN's Arash Markazi that Kobe Bryant is ahead of schedule rehabbing his Achilles injury. While Buss' claim that Bryant could return in the preseason is a little preposterous—about on the level of anyone thinking Robert Griffin III should suit up for the preseason—there remains the very real possibility that No. 24 could defy the odds once again.
The Lakers news cycle has been a little slower this week, but there still have been some notable stories—some strange and others understandable. With that in mind, let's take a look around the SoCal area and analyze what we've learned about the Purple and Gold recently.
Nash to Try Out for Inter Milan Next Week
Steve Nash's affinity for international football is almost as great as his ability to drop dimes through razor-thin space on the basketball court. In another life, Nash once claimed to GQ, he could have been a professional soccer player.
Now he's about to get his chance. According to the Associated Press' Tim Reynolds (h/t the Star Tribune), Nash will try out for Serie A side Inter Milan next week. The Italian club will be in the United States as it prepares to take on Chelsea Thursday in the opening match of the Guinness International Champions Cup.
Tournament officials have said Nash's tryout will take place Tuesday. The 39-year-old guard could barely contain his excitement when talking about the impending opportunity.
"It's a dream come true to get a chance to try out, not just to try out but to take the field with Inter Milan, one of the great, storied franchises in professional sports," Nash said. "I feel like a little kid."
While the news came a bit of out left field, it's not exactly a shocker Nash would want to try his hand on the pitch. He chose to wear No. 10 with the Lakers to honor soccer legends Glenn Hoddle and Zinedine Zidane. He's also been a fervent supporter of international soccer, supporting Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur and investing in the MLS' Vancouver Whitecaps.
As for what this means for Nash's future with the Lakers, I'd put it somewhere between nothing and absolutely nothing. Inter Milan have been on a downturn each of the last two Serie A seasons, finishing an embarrassing ninth in the table in 2012-13. Their roster is still a bit on the questionable side talent-wise, making it unlikely they'll be finding their way to European competition a year from now.
That said, come on. Nash is almost 40, has never played professional soccer and is coming off a hamstring injury. This is a nice publicity stunt and all, but anyone who views it as anything else is going a bit overboard—even if Nash is more qualified than your average NBAer-gone-footie player.
Carmelo Doesn't Think He'll Be a Laker
The Lakers' loss of Dwight Howard and lack of contractual obligations past next season puts them in as good a place as any franchise, a situation they plan on using to their advantage. Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN collaborated on a report saying the club already has big plans for next summer, specifically that it plans on going hard after LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony—or even both.
It's exactly the type of rumor that will send fans into a tizzy. It took mere minutes for Lakers fans to boot up Photoshop and start superimposing purple and gold onto the backs of Anthony and James.
There are multiple snags to this dream scenario, not the least of which is the summer of 2014 being a year away. But that wasn't going to stop TMZ from asking Anthony about whether he saw himself wearing a Lakers uniform a year from now.
"Ummmmm, I doubt it," Anthony said while walking out of a West Hollywood restaurant.
It'd be farcical to make any concrete assertions from Anthony's quote. He's not going to outwardly admit he wants to play for the Lakers, not with a full year left to play under his contract with the New York Knicks. The 29-year-old forward isn't about to draw the ire of the Madison Square Garden crowd, nor should he. The Knicks were the No. 2 seed out East last season, have pegged Anthony as their franchise player and boast more roster talent than the Lakers at the moment.
Anything is possible in NBA free agency. Howard left $30 million in guaranteed cash on the table to go to Houston, a move that was nearly unprecedented in NBA history. It's fair to say Anthony could see the Los Angeles lifestyle as being preferable to New York, though that seems really, really unlikely seeing as he's from the area and his wife, entertainer LaLa Anthony, can work on her career there.
Again, I'm not saying it won't happen. Just saying I wouldn't exactly hold my breath.
Elias Harris Signs 2-Year Pact With Lakers
For fans, the NBA Summer League is their first opportunity to see this year's new crop of rookies while also staving off the doldrums of the league's offseason. It's the last vestige of NBA basketball before the preseason, a time in which your hardcore basketball fan resembles a detoxing narcotics addict.
For the players actually participating, however, these games mean much more—especially for second-round picks and undrafted free agents. Only the first 30 picks of the NBA draft are required guaranteed contracts, allowing teams to essentially use the final 30 as freebies. And while a majority of second-rounders get at least a cup of coffee with their drafting franchise, Summer League is sometimes the only proving round for undrafted players.
So it's always a good story when one of those players finds a way to land a guaranteed deal—as Elias Harris did this year in Vegas with the Lakers. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Harris and the Lakers agreed to a two-year deal with a "significant" guarantee for Year 1:
Forward Elias Harris has agreed to a two year deal with Lakers, agent Brad Ames tells Y! Deal includes "significant" guarantee in 1st year.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 26, 2013
Harris, 24, played college ball at Gonzaga. He averaged 14.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season with the Bulldogs, helping lead them to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
While Harris' stats weren't spectacular in Las Vegas—he averaged 10.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 44.7 percent from the field—the Lakers came away impressed with his athleticism and toughness. He was particularly impressive in the Lakers' final game, scoring 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting and even knocking down two long-range jumpers.
Mike D'Antoni will likely struggle to find significant playing time for Harris in his rotation until he can find a consistent outside jumper, but he could develop into an interesting bench cog with some seasoning. D'Antoni loves athletic 4s who can run the floor, and Harris can help the Lakers' lack of prowess on the boards.
His signing brings the Lakers up to the league-minimum 12 players, not including second-round pick Ryan Kelly, who is yet to sign a contract. It's likely Los Angeles will continue adding pieces to the puzzle the rest of this summer with veteran-minimum deals.
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