Chances are, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to have a coach one of these days.
The Lakers moved a bit further along in the search process Wednesday and appear to have a front-runner, but nothing is definite until Byron Scott (or someone else) signs a contract. What’s more, Los Angeles could still be looking to make some personnel moves.
With that in mind, here is a glance at the latest news and rumors from Lakers camp.
Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News filled fans in on the latest regarding Scott and the coaching position:
Byron Scott's interview concluded with Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss. League source said Scott went over personnel, but no offer made— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 16, 2014
League source said Lakers plan to fill out more roster and then follow up. Timeline not clear— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 16, 2014
Scott has been considered the favorite for some time, and he even has superstar Kobe Bryant’s endorsement, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin. The fact that there was no actual offer made could be construed as worrisome from the Scott camp, but he was discussing personnel. It’s difficult to imagine the Lakers’ front office talking roster moves with someone who won’t be in the fold next season.
He led the Nets to back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals from the sidelines, but his connection with Los Angeles is through his playing days. He may not be drilling three-pointers off of no-look passes from Magic Johnson anymore, but Scott would certainly be welcomed back by Lakers fans.
The Chicago Bulls amnestied Carlos Boozer, which means other teams under the salary cap can submit bids on the forward’s contract through a 48-hour period.
Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times described how the Lakers can join the fold in that race for Boozer:
The Lakers are one of many teams still armed with salary-cap room…Both Young and returning center-forward Jordan Hill have yet to re-sign, giving the Lakers additional flexibility to add to the roster -- possibly through an amnesty claim on Boozer.
The Lakers can also waive and stretch the contract of Steve Nash over three years, increasing cap room this summer by about $6 million, while reducing the space over the next two seasons by $3.2 million.
Boozer receives his fair share of criticism because of his lackluster defense, but he can still be a double-double threat in the right situation. He averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds a night for the Bulls last year in 76 games, so he is durable as well.
Chicago general manager Gar Forman had positive reviews for Boozer’s game, via Pincus:
Carlos epitomized professionalism in everything he did for the Bulls both on the court and in the community during his time here in Chicago. Over the last four seasons, Carlos’ productivity helped elevate our team to another level. I have nothing but respect for Carlos, and certainly wish him the best as he moves forward.
The Lakers could use some experienced veterans on the roster, and Boozer would be a good place to start. Perhaps the combination of Boozer, Bryant and a new coach could help Los Angeles sneak into the postseason next year.
Medina provided an update on some of that possible roster shaping, including an impending deal with Ryan Kelly:
Ryan Kelly will likely reach deal soon w/ Lakers. Lakers like Xavier Henry, but no deal is imminent. Lakers unlikely to keep Wesley Johnson— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 16, 2014
Kelly posted nightly averages of eight points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists last year and shot 33.8 percent from behind the three-point line. He came into the league as a second-round pick in 2013 but exceeded expectations by working his way into the starting lineup for the Lakers.
At 6’11”, Kelly can occasionally bang around down low, but it is his ability to stretch the floor that makes him valuable. He still struggles on the defensive side though, and whichever coach lands the Lakers gig will likely make improvement there a priority.
Of course, they have to actually hire that coach first.
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