NBA Update – The LA Lakers and Orlando.

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Basketball fans are keenly awaiting the resumption of the 2019-20 season at the ESPN complex at Disneyworld located in Orlando Florida.

Here’s a complete rundown from Head Coach Frank Vogel dated July 1st 2020…

Frank Vogel Addresses Lakers Roster Updates for Orlando

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When Frank Vogel became the head coach of the Lakers over a year ago, he knew there would be plenty of challenges, and plenty of pressure.

But there’s no way he could have predicted a truly unprecedented 2019-20 season including the events surrounding the team’s preseason trip to China, the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the racial and social justice movement that continues to evolve.

Amidst all of that, Vogel is trying to lead his players and staff through never-traveled terrain as the team’s first game in the Walt Disney World bubble is exactly one month away.

As players continue individual workouts at the UCLA Health Training Center, ramping up towards the planned departure of the team charter on July 9, Vogel acknowledged that JR Smith would replace Avery Bradley on the roster, though it would take a team effort to replace Bradley’s role.

The other question mark on the roster is about Dwight Howard, who’s dealing with a unique family situation that he described to us in May, in addition to his focus on social justice.

Vogel offered an update on Howard’s status.

“We’ve been in communication with Dwight the whole way,” he said. “We don’t know what the level of participation is yet. He wants to play. We’re hopeful he’s able to join us. We’re hopeful and optimistic that he’ll be able to join us in Orlando.”

Howard is one of 10 Lakers to average at least 16.8 minutes per game this season: LeBron James (34.9); Anthony Davis (34.3); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (25.4); Danny Green (25.1); Kyle Kuzma (24.6); Bradley (24.2); Rajon Rondo (20.5); Howard (19.2), Alex Caruso (17.8); and JaVale McGee (16.8). Markieff Morris had also entered the rotation, earning 14.8 minutes in his eight appearances.

Meanwhile, Quinn Cook and Jared Dudley got spot minutes and filled in admirably when needed, and Vogel said repeatedly that he’d trust them in any game situation. One could surmise that both Smith and playoff-roster-deadline acquisition Dion Waiters would fit in with Cook and Dudley as veterans who could be called upon for specific reasons and matchups, i.e., the need for a guy who can get his own bucket off the bench (Waiters) or floor spacing (Smith, who’s a 37.3 percent 3-point shooter who ranks 9th all-time in postseason 3’s made, and 4th in the NBA Finals).

Vogel has yet to work with Smith on the court, but he did have a welcome-to-the-team chat with the 34-year-old veteran.

“The experience factor,” said Vogel about what Smith brings. “This guy’s a big-time player, he’s proven it over the course of his career. We know he can help us. We almost added him earlier in the year when we added Dion Waiters, and now we have the luxury of having both. We’re not going to ask him to come in and be Avery Bradley, he’s going to come in and be JR Smith.”

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And while Smith provides depth on the wing, the bulk of Bradley’s 24.2 minutes could be split amongst KCP, Caruso and Rondo, depending upon the game situation.

“Avery’s loss is obviously a huge loss for us, but we’re a next-man-up team,” Vogel continued. “Alex is an elite defender in his own right in a different way than Avery, as is KCP. Offensively, clearly we wouldn’t run plays that Avery uses for Alex, we’d run plays that put Alex in the best position to succeed.”

On his own Zoom call with reporters earlier on Wednesday, Caruso offered a similar sentiment.

“It might not be with one person (filling Bradley’s role), but this team has done a great job this year when guys have been out, of stepping up and filling a role or a need,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll be the sole provider of everything that Avery did, that’s a lot to ask for because of how good he is at what he does, but I’m definitely going to be ready to fill part of that gap and that need.”

Caruso mentioned Bradley’s skills as a supplementary ballhandler and defender who took open threes as things he thinks he replicate. On the other hand, Caruso acknowledged Bradley’s strength with mid-range pullups and floaters out of the sets Vogel was asked about as things with which he is less comfortable. Fortunately, those are sets that KCP can replicate.

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In fact, KCP started all 18 games for Bradley from Nov. 15 – Dec. 22 after Bradley suffered a hairline fracture in November. The Lakers went 15-1 before back-to-back losses at Indiana and Milwaukee at the end of a difficult road stretch. LAL also won games at Chicago (Nov. 5) and at OKC (Jan. 11) with KCP starting for Bradley, bringing the total mark to 17-3.

One benefit to those KCP lineups is the increased floor spacing he provides. Caldwell-Pope has hit 87 3’s this season on an impressive 39.4 percent from the field, compared to Bradley’s 63 makes on 36.4 percent. With LeBron as the primary ballhandler with the starters, Rondo could remain in his playmaking role off the bench.

Fortunately for Vogel, his squad has a 5.5 game lead in the West, meaning he can use the eight seeding games to iron out such rotation questions ahead of the start of the playoffs. Vogel was asked how having that lead might impact his approach in Orlando.

“We do have a different type of perspective from some teams that are playing for their playoff lives, but it doesn’t mean we’re not going to go out and – like we always would if these were the last eight games of the regular season – we would compete to win,” said Vogel. “That’s how your habits are built the best … Does that mean we’re going to play certain guys 47 minutes? Obviously no.

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“We’ll be intelligent with the whole process of trying to find the right pace to bring our group along from a conditioning standpoint and evaluating on a daily basis what we feel they can handle and what they’re ready for without compromising their bodies and putting them at risk to injury. We will be cautious with those eight games, but we will compete to win.”

Then it’s time for the playoffs, a unique challenge given the circumstances, and one for which Caruso is ready.

“This is something personally that I relish,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of lasting, of being the team that can be the mentally toughest, the mentally strongest and saying ‘Yeah, we may be on this isolated campus for three months, but we have a goal, we have a mission and it’s not going to affect us trying to get to that end goal and finish the job.’”

It’s that mental side of the game where Caruso thinks the Lakers will have an edge, with everybody dealing with a similar physical challenge.

“The hardest part for us is getting back to doing physically what we were able to do, as far as being early on assignments, being physically ready to box out, to play as physically as it takes to beat teams like the Clippers, Bucks, Rockets and Nuggets, all the good teams that are competing for championships and are going to be in the playoffs,” he explained. “Just getting back to that physical form of being able to do it night in, take a day off, night out, keep going and going and going for a month and a half. The mental part I feel like for our team is going to be easier just because we have such a heady and basketball-smart team, basketball-IQ led team and coaching staff.”

Source: nba.com

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Australia Day – Green vs Gold

Well it’s the Australia Day public holiday on Monday 27th but right now here’s a bit of a treat for our viewers, followers and friends. It’s the Green (Boston Celtics) vs the Gold (LA Lakers) and for some it’s a surprise result with the Lakers going down to the Celtics 107 to 139. (Green and Gold, so Aussie!)

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Here are the full game highlights. Kick back and enjoy. The Celtics – with party tricks.

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LeBron James joins the LA Lakers

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LeBron James’ new Lakers contract will make him the best-paid NBA player — ever.

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LeBron James is a perennial NBA All-Star with four Most Valuable Player awards and three championship rings, including the one he won most recently, in 2016, with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. But, starting next season, James, 33, will also have a new work address, thanks to the four-year, $154 million contract the basketball star agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

It will likely make him the best-paid NBA player ever and pushes him down the path to becoming a billionaire.

Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents James, announced his decision to join the Lakers, which came only two days after the NBA star opted out of his contract with Cleveland to become a free agent. James, who owns multiple homes in the Los Angeles area, has a new contract that will pay him $35.6 million for the upcoming 2018-2019 NBA season and its annual value will increase each year until it hits $41 million for the 2021-2022 season, according to sports contract website Spotrac.

After the fourth and final year of James’ new deal with the Lakers, he will have earned over $387.2 million, which will make him the highest-paid player in the history of the NBA, based on all-time career salary, according to Spotrac. After the most recent NBA season, which ended with James’ Cavaliers losing to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in June, James has earned a total of $233.9 million in NBA salary over 15 seasons since he entered the league in 2003 as an 18-year-old rookie.

Spotrac’s ranking of the NBA players with the all-time highest career earnings currently has only five players ahead of James. Four of those players (Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan) are retired, so they won’t be earning any more salary as NBA players. The fifth player ahead of James in career salary is Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki, who earned just $5 million last season and, at 40 years old, is likely to retire after another season or two and will not earn any further blockbuster NBA contracts.

Part of the way through his third season in Los Angeles, James will pass Garnett’s career earnings of $334 million, according to Spotrac, to take the top spot. And James isn’t the only active NBA shooting up the list of all-time career earnings. Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul’s, 33, new four-year contract, which will also pay him $35.6 million this year, will leave him with a whopping $346.5 million in career salary after the 2021-2022 season, which will place him just behind James.

Because of the NBA’s rigid salary structure, which does not allow players to earn more than a maximum amount that’s set for each season, it is extremely unlikely that any player will be able to swoop in with a mega-deal to pass James on the career salary earnings rankings over the next four years.

Of course, LeBron James’ income is not dependent on his NBA salary. The future hall-of-famer will collect an estimated $52 million in 2017 (or about 60 percent of his annual income) from massive endorsement deals with brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola’s Sprite and Beats By Dre headphones, according to Forbes.

In total, Forbes estimates that James has already made $765 million between his NBA salary and off-court earnings since he turned pro 15 years ago. So, James might not be quite to the billion-dollar mark overall yet, but with a liftetime endorsement contract with Nike that’s reportedly worth roughly $1 billion overall (according to a James associate), he’s certainly on his way.

Source: cnbc.com