[+] EnlargeJulius Randle
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty ImagesJulius Randle is eager to begin Vegas Summer League play Friday.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Not since Julius Randle suffered a season-ending broken leg during his NBA debut last year has the power forward engaged in an organized practice with teammates.

Not until Monday, that is.

Randle, the Los Angeles Lakers' top draft choice in 2014, joined other members of the team's summer league squad for a practice session at the team's facility leading into Friday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Las Vegas.

It marked another step forward for Randle, who has steadily progressed through rehab and recently completed weeks of five-on-five full-court drills.

"It's something I've been thinking about for a long time," said Randle, the former Kentucky standout who was drafted seventh overall last year. "It's excitement and hunger and anticipation."

While he certainly has to shake off rust after playing just 14 minutes in the team's 2014-15 opener before suffering his injury, Randle did open eyes Monday.


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Russell, Clarkson sharing the court for now

July, 6, 2015
Jul 6
3:39
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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D'Angelo Russell and Jordan ClarksonGetty Images

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Soon after the Los Angeles Lakers selected D'Angelo Russell with the second overall pick in last month's NBA draft, the focus turned to their other promising young guard, Jordan Clarkson, and what the addition of Russell meant for him.

Could they play together, each sharing point guard duties, or would they instead be competing for minutes?

For now, the two took the court together Monday at the team’s training facility as the Lakers’ summer-league squad held its first practice leading into Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Las Vegas.

Clarkson came away quite impressed with the 6-foot-5 Russell, a 19-year-old who played one standout season at Ohio State.

“He can pass the hell out of the ball,” Clarkson said. “He was able to move the ball well and it makes the game a lot easier for everybody. It’s good running with him.”

The 6-foot-5 Clarkson, the Lakers’ second-round draft pick last summer out of the University of Missouri, wasn’t the only Laker wowed by Clarkson’s court vision.

“Some of the stuff he did surprised me, so that’s going to be an adjustment, too,” Lakers forward Julius Randle said of Russell’s passing ability. “I can catch them, but it’s just having that point guard that’s hitting you right on time.”

Russell smiled when Randle’s remark was relayed to him.

“I feel like me playing with a lot of guys that aren’t used to playing with me, I feel like they all feel that way,” Russell said. “I feel like it’s a transition.”

Russell also felt encouraged about sharing a backcourt with Clarkson.

“He seems like an easy guy to play with," Russell said. "He’s a fast-paced guard, very up-tempo, and I’m the same. I’m not as light and fast as him, but I try to pass and keep it that way.”

Clarkson played substantial minutes last season because of injuries and was named an all-rookie first-team selection, helping establish himself as a promising part of the Lakers’ future.

While both Clarkson and Russell have each maintained that they can play together, it remains to be seen how that will play out.

“It’s going to be a competition,” Clarkson said. “We’re going to compete. But at the end of the day, we’re playing together and [at] summer league, whoever gets the ball off the rim, we’re pushing it. We’re trying to play fast, get up and down, get easy shots. And then defensively, we’re just long and able to guard multiple guys. It’s going to be fun.”

Free Pass Bass: No hard feelings for joining Lakers

July, 5, 2015
Jul 5
9:59
PM PT
Forsberg By Chris Forsberg
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Brandon BassAP Photo/John BazemoreBrandon Bass brought a blue-collar work ethic that won fans over in his four seasons with the Celtics.

A player leaving the Boston Celtics to play for the Los Angeles Lakers would typically be sacrilege in these parts, but fans here are likely to make an exception for Brandon Bass.

It seemed unlikely from the start of the offseason that Bass would return to the Celtics and, when the team came to agreement on Day 1 of free agency with both Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko, it only confirmed that notion.

The 30-year-old Bass, a veteran of 10 NBA seasons, including the past four with the Celtics, agreed Sunday to sign with the rival Lakers.

Bass, a diligent solider who endured endless speculation about his future in recent years, appeared in every game the past three seasons for Boston (starting 76 percent of the team's games in that span).

While he didn't have the glitziest stat line -- Bass and his steady mid-range game averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds over 27.3 minutes per game during his four seasons in Boston -- Bass brought a blue-collar work ethic and won fans over with toughness and defensive versatility.

Bass earned the team's Auerbach Award during the 2013-14 season, an honor that celebrates the player who best exemplifies the spirit of what it means to be a Celtic through performance on the court and off. Bass embraced his community work while in Boston, even returning last month to lead a local zoo tour despite the likelihood that he would not be back this season.

Boston acquired Bass before the 2011-12 season in a swap with Orlando for Glen Davis. Bass was supposed to be a complementary piece to aid Boston's veteran big three, but his role became murkier two seasons later as the Celtics went into rebuilding mode and drafted young big men such as Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk.

Bass' name swirled in trade speculation each of the past two seasons, but he rarely let the whispers affect his play. And no matter his role, Bass came to work each day and endeared himself to this coaching staff.

The Celtics even got Bass to embrace stretching out his range to the 3-point line last season. After taking 21 3-pointers over his first nine seasons in the league, Bass hoisted 32 last year (and even made a couple of chucks from the corner).

For a Lakers team that tends to shun the triple, Bass should get a chance to rely on his bread and butter -- midrange jumpers and two-handed jams around the basket.

Celtics fans will find it odd to see Bass in purple and gold -- even if it will harken him back to his college days at LSU. Regardless, most Celtics fans were sincere in bidding Bass a fond farewell. About the meanest they could muster was suggesting they simply wish that Bass had signed with a true contender.

Lakers, free agent Brandon Bass agree to deal

July, 5, 2015
Jul 5
5:23
PM PT
[+] EnlargeBrandon Bass
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty ImagesPower forward Brandon Bass agreed with the Lakers on a deal, according to a source, though terms were not available.

The Los Angeles Lakers continued to fill out their roster through free agency by reaching an agreement with Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass, a source told ESPN.com.

Terms were not disclosed and are dependent on what other roster moves the Lakers make once players are able to sign contracts starting on Thursday.

The 30-year-old Bass, a 10-year veteran out of LSU, has earned a reputation as one of the most durable players in the league, having missed one game since the beginning of the 2012-13 season and none in the past two seasons.

Bass played a reduced role for the Celtics last season, starting just 39 games games with 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game.

Bass played for New Orleans, the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic and Celtics in his 10 seasons. He averages 9.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 82 percent free throw shooting for his career.

The Lakers have been busy in the free-agent and trade markets since losing out


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The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with free-agent guard Lou Williams, sources told ESPN.com. 

News of the deal, which cannot become official until Thursday, was first reported by Real GM.

Williams played last season with the Toronto Raptors and enjoyed a career year. He averaged a career-best 15.5 points in 80 games to win Sixth Man of the Year honors.

"You can't leave him open," Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri said at the end of the regular season. "Sometimes the percentages don't really kind of show exactly what the impact is, but we knew what kind of impact Lou would have. He has helped us win games and helped a lot of players open up."

Williams wasn't sure whether he would be the same player after tearing his ACL in January 2013. But after being traded by the Atlanta Hawks to Toronto last summer, Williams was a key component to the Raptors' run to the Atlantic Division title and the East's fourth-best record (49-33).

Williams led or tied for the Raptors' lead in scoring in 18 games, second most for a reserve in the league. In March, he set a record for points in a quarter with 21 against the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter.

He also became a fan favorite in Toronto in just one season and even was referenced in a song called "6 Man" by Raptors team ambassador Drake.

"He finished a lot of games for us and helped us win a lot of games," Raptors teammate DeMar DeRozan


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Israel Gutierrez explains why the Lakers are trending down and how it's up to D'Angelo Russell to save the franchise as Kobe Bryant is on his way out.
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The Los Angeles Lakers are nearing agreement on a trade with the Indiana Pacers that will bring them former All-Star center Roy Hibbert by week's end, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that the teams are still discussing the final framework of the deal but have committed to a swap that will see Hibbert absorbed into the Lakers' salary-cap space after they missed out on all of their primary free-agent targets.

Thursday is the first day that the deal can be consummated, after a leaguewide moratorium on roster business is lifted, and one source told ESPN.com on Saturday: "It'll get done after July 9."

The Lakers will absorb Hibbert's $15.5 million salary for next season into their salary-cap space, sources said.

The Lakers were snubbed in free agency by high-profile targets such as LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan as well as second-tier big men such as ‎Greg Monroe and Robin Lopez.

The obvious next step for the Lakers is to trade for a big man in the final year of his contract who won't affect L.A.'s free-agency plans for the summer of 2016, making Hibbert and former Golden State Warriors All-Star forward David Lee two natural targets.

But sources said Saturday that the Lakers are not actively pursuing Lee.


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[+] EnlargeLin
Bart Young/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Mavericks are targeting Jeremy Lin for their opening at point guard.

The Dallas Mavericks are firmly in the mix to sign free-agent point guard Jeremy Lin, according to league sources.

Dallas has limited funds to offer, but sources told ESPN.com that Lin is giving the Mavericks strong consideration even though he can likely make more money elsewhere.

Lin's relationship with Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons from their days as teammates in Houston, sources said, has kept Dallas in the race despite its lack of financial flexibility. Parsons, of course, had a huge hand in the recruiting of DeAndre Jordan to the Mavericks in the richest free-agent score in team history.


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If there's one thing the Los Angeles Lakers can learn from LaMarcus Aldridge's almost inevitable decision to join the San Antonio Spurs, it's that this is not about the presentations, it's about the roster and the culture.

The Lakers got a second chance to make their pitch to Aldridge after their first attempt was widely ridiculed for its lack of basketball focus. I'd argue the Lakers got their encore appearance because the first was widely ridiculed, and Aldridge's representatives felt bad that the word got out and wanted to give the Lakers a chance to save face.

Even if the Lakers scaled down the presentation, made it less about Hollywood and more about the hardwood in the second go-round, they couldn't change the basic facts that they can only sell the glorious past and the possibilities of the future. They can't sell the present. They don't have the core components of a team that won a championship a year ago like the Spurs do, they don't have a culture where the star player takes discounted contracts and even a role player primed to cash out like Danny Green sticks around at a discounted rate.


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Check out these top NBA dunks that produced fireworks during this past season.
[+] EnlargeLaMarcus Aldridge
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty ImagesAfter a flurry of meetings with multiple NBA teams, LaMarcus Aldridge is stepping back to weigh everything he's heard from his suitors.

LaMarcus Aldridge currently has no plans to make out-of-town visits and, at this stage, plans to take "a couple of days" to digest all the pitches he has received after meeting with multiple teams, sources told ESPN.com on Friday.

Sources said the pitch Aldridge received Friday in Los Angeles ‎from coach Gregg Popovich -- about playing with Tim Duncan in his final days in the NBA and then taking over for him as the Spurs' frontcourt linchpin alongside Kawhi Leonard -- resonated strongly with Aldridge.

It was the Spurs' second meeting with Aldridge. Popovich, Duncan, Leonard and Tony Parker all pitched Aldridge directly Wednesday morning, sources said.

The Los Angeles Lakers also got a second chance to impress Aldridge, their top free-agent target, on Thursday night in a meeting that lasted about 90 minutes and focused entirely on basketball, sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.


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Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley discuss how Kobe Bryant's presence on Twitter is hurting his reputation and the Lakers.
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Robin Lopez has agreed to a deal with the New York Knicks, the free-agent center tweeted Friday.

The deal is for four years with a total value of $54 million, sources told ESPN.

Lopez chose the Knicks over the Los Angeles Lakers, sources said. His deal with New York went through after DeAndre Jordan came to terms with the Dallas Mavericks.

The Knicks met Thursday with Jordan, and if he had chosen New York, the Lopez-to-Knicks deal would have been called off.

Lopez is the second free agent picked up by Phil Jackson and the Knicks in the 2015 offseason. On Thursday, New York agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract with Arron Afflalo.

New York also had a meeting scheduled with free agent LaMarcus Aldridge


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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.9
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.2