first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error EL SEGUNDO >> Before the Lakers fulfilled the Prophecy of LaVar, drafted a hometown hero and hit reset on a rebuilding effort that has come in fits and starts, Luke Walton understood what fans believed would reclaim the city’s hardwood heritage.Lonzo Ball. Whenever Walton stepped outside his Manhattan Beach home, fans told him who the Lakers needed. Lonzo Ball.“They were going nuts for him before the draft happened,” Walton said Thursday night.With a cross-country phone call originating from the Lakers’ headquarters in El Segundo shortly after 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the Lakers reshaped this city’s struggling franchise, drafting Ball, a sweet-passing point guard from UCLA and Chino Hills. “When he was a baby,” LaVar bellowed, before going on to say that his other two sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo would follow suit: star at UCLA and get drafted by the Lakers.How would he make that happen?“Ball control!”Hollywood now has, at least, another showman. Fans will like LaVar, he speaks their language. He guaranteed the Lakers would reach the playoffs next season with Lonzo playing point guard.Walton heard the voices of those fans he said he encountered around town, imploring the Lakers to draft Ball, a 19-year-old who did not leave home for college and now won’t have to for the NBA.“He’s a hometown kid,” Walton said. “You would imagine most fans are behind him.”They will be behind him because ever since the Steve Nash-Dwight Howard-Kobe Bryant “super-team” failed, Lakers fans have thirsted for something to get behind. The team that plays beneath 16 championship banners in Staples Center has suffered the four worst seasons in franchise history, cycled through four coaches in five years and hung its hope on draft picks.Believe in the young players, the Lakers said. Then, on Tuesday, they changed course and sent one of those cornerstone players, D’Angelo Russell, to Brooklyn to grease the wheels of a deal that also freed them from the burdensome contract of a veteran center named Timofey Mozgov.There is a bigger plan at play here, as the Lakers stockpile assets and financial flexibility to chase superstars like Paul George, the Indiana forward whose agent has made it clear the Palmdale native wants to come home. In another year, they will pursue the ultimate trophy in NBA free agent big-game hunting, LeBron James.Other teams want LeBron, too. And that’s where the plan gets muddy. Incestuous.That’s because at the beginning of a week that changed basketball in L.A., the patriarch of all that Lakers glory, Jerry West, sat in front of a stanchion draped in blue and red and delivered a crushing shot at those who claim to bleed purple and gold.West had a hand in every championship this city’s preeminent franchise won from the time it arrived from Minneapolis. Hired this week as a Clippers consultant, he leveled his focus on his new team and said, “They’ve had the best team in town for seven straight years.”Those words cut deep and the purple and gold plasma flowed.It cut so deep because it was true. And that says more about the Lakers than it does the Clippers, who despite five consecutive 50-plus win seasons never advanced past the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Never truly seized control of this city’s wanting basketball imagination.For decades, a generation even, L.A. has been a two-team town in name only.The Clippers have made significant efforts to change that. They have cultivated a subculture of fans who have come to embrace the sacrifice that must eventually beget success.Last week the Clippers announced they had taken the initial steps to explore building their own arena, one that would house no banners until they earn their own. Then came West.The two teams of Los Angeles are waged in a heavyweight prize fight, at least at the managerial level.Magic Johnson vs. Jerry West? Vegas drools; Mayweather/McGregor can’t hold a candle to that.The question is whether that rivalry trickles down to the court, where the Clippers have won 14 of the past 15 games, including a 48-point romp in 2014 that was the most lopsided loss in the Lakers’ storied history.By all tangible, reasonable measures, the Clippers are the best team in town — just like West said. But there is something about the history of the Lakers, the confidence that comes with having risen to every challenge, to never staying down for long.The Lakers and their fans believe they have sacrificed; the Clippers may scoff, but by their standards it’s true. Fans accustomed to championship are tired of losing.Come on, they say, let’s have a Ball.center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIf not for a father who speaks in guarantees and breathes only fire, Ball might be most often described as mild-mannered, soft-spoken and humble instead of as LaVar Ball’s son.To be honest with you, I don’t think I really say anything too crazy,” Lonzo Ball said in a conference call with L.A. media.After the Lakers drafted Ball, the next piece of the Lakers’ evolving puzzle did a quick handshake with his younger brother.While Magic Johnson’s first draft choice began hours-long media obligations, ESPN’s cameras and reporter sped to LaVar in the audience. When Lonzo grabbed a Lakers hat off a stand, his dad pulled out head-wear of his own: a purple and gold cap emblazoned with “BBB” the initial’s of LaVar’s entrepreneurial vehicle, “Big Baller Brand.”When did he have that made?last_img read more

first_imgAvery Bradley, 6-2 guard: Any Clippers fan will tell you that the past few seasons have been anything but easy for Bradley, who has bounced around the league since he was an All-Defensive team honoree in Boston. He started to approach his old self during his last stint in Memphis, and Bradley talked about why he thinks that might continue when he joins the Lakers.Jared Dudley, 6-7 wing: The consummate “locker room guy,” Dudley might not play major minutes, but he’s expected to bring value as a 12-year veteran. Pelinka calling him crafty might be a nice way of talking around his unintimidating figure, but Dudley described why he’s had a long career even though he knows he was never “built for speed.”Troy Daniels, 6-4 guard: The way the Lakers have stacked the roster, eventually there’s going to be a guy at the end of the bench. Daniels, 28, might well be that guy, but he’s mentally prepared to accept that role and fight for playing time. On his birthday(!), Daniels described how a career of being overlooked has allowed him to toughen up for those situations and hit big shots when it counts.A COACHING ADDITION WORTH NOTICINGThere’s only one man who has been to the NBA Finals the last five years and has not been a member of the Golden State Warriors during that time: Phil Handy.It’s intriguing, then, that the Lakers have hired Handy to be an assistant on Frank Vogel’s staff, according to an ESPN report. Handy has worked for the Lakers before, as an assistant to Mike Brown. He then went on to join Ty Lue’s staff in Cleveland, before being picked up by the Toronto Raptors in the offseason. He’s won two championships in that span.Handy’s reputation is as a skills development guy: He’s worked extensively with Kobe, LeBron and Kawhi during his career, and having him around speaks to the Lakers’ championship intentions this season, as well as how they want to handle their stars. It will be intriguing as the Lakers draw closer to fully finalizing their staff how roles will be occupied.— Kyle GoonThanks for reading the Monday, July 15 edition of the Purple & Bold newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.Linking to the finish …Pelinka’s plan: The general manager spoke to media about assembling the roster, waiting for Kawhi Leonard and explained the team’s cap management now and for the future.From the mind of Frank Vogel: Another key figure in the shape of the team gave insight into how he wants to play next year.Tampering coming to a head: Adam Silver was forced to acknowledge that maybe the NBA’s rules on tampering don’t make much sense.What we still don’t know: I offered a few questions that still need sorting out after the Lakers assembled their roster. Editor’s note: This is the Monday, July 15 edition of the Purple & Bold newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.Remember the first five days of July, when Lakers free agency news was trickling out sparsely and seemed to be moving at a glacial pace?Those were the days, huh?The Lakers quickly slapped a roster together after the Kawhi Wait, and last week, the team started the process of introducing the new players to the local media. There are some interesting stories that have come out since they started speaking, but they all came in so quickly, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you missed some of them. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersSo for our newsletter this week, here is a collection of observations with links to our stories about the new Lakers additions to the roster, in case you’ve been caught by surprise by the uptick in pace:Anthony Davis, 6-foot-11 forward: OK, so you know this one. But the Lakers blew out a Saturday press conference to introduce Davis alongside Rob Pelinka and Frank Vogel. Some things to take out of the proceedings: The Lakers are expecting to build their team around Davis for the foreseeable future, even though he’s technically only under contract for one year, so they’ll have to do everything in their power to keep him next summer. The other factor is that Davis, 26, is ready for something to change about his image after a seven-year career in New Orleans that rarely took him far in the postseason.DeMarcus Cousins, 6-11 center: This is the player the Lakers identify as the “X-factor” of the season, a low-risk, high-upside gamble that, if he can reach his All-Star heights, could profoundly raise the ceiling of the team. People have noticed that Cousins looks slimmer than he did even last season, and he offered a glimpse into his motivation.Danny Green, 6-6 wing: Green was a needed get at his position, and he has championship experience with the Spurs and the Raptors. A 3-point specialist and competent defender, he ate up nearly half of the salary cap money the Lakers had once set aside for Kawhi Leonard. As someone who had to wait for Leonard to make his choice, Green offered a lot of interesting insight on his former teammate’s process.Quinn Cook, 6-2 guard: Another shooting specialist, Cook was expecting to be back on the Warriors next season until free agency developments took him by surprise. But the D.C. native has a good relationship with LeBron James, and that was part of the reason the Lakers were able to pounce on him late in the game. Now he’ll play for the team he loved as a kid.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Finance Minister Yiorgos Papaconstantinou outlined what he called the 10 most significant challenges facing the Greek economy in 2011, saying: “we have a lot of work ahead, we have structural reforms to ensure the sustainability of reducing deficits and viability of the country’s public finances”.Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister sounded “open” to a possibility of extending the repayment period of loans received by the 110-billion-euro support mechanism, although he stressed that no decision over an extension has been taken. Moreover, he dismissed speculation of additional loans from 2013 onwards.Papaconstantinou stressed that Greece’s aim was to return to capital markets in 2011, saying “we are doing our job. The rest will come in due time, depending on how things are going”.Additionally, Papaconstantinou categorically reassured that “there is no issue of dismissals in the public sector”, saying that transfer of workers in the public sector would not be counted as new hirings. The Greek minister thanked his colleagues in government for their cooperation with the troika experts, while he criticised the opposition for its stance.Amongst others, Papaconstantinou ticked off the 10 biggest challenges facing the economy in the coming year, including:1. Better management and control of public spending, drafting a medium-term fiscal strategic framework for the period 2012-2014 aimed at reducing the fiscal deficit from 17 billion euros to 6.4 billion euros.2. Combating tax evasion via provisions envisioned in draft law on tax legislation, such as accelerating tax trials, restructuring the finance ministry and merging tax agencies.3. Reducing public sector enterprises’ deficits through the closure and merger of organisations. Loss-making enterprises will have to reduce their workforce but not with dismissals but with workers’ transfers.4. Reforming the public sector. The minister said 40,000 employees will leave the public sector in 2010 and around 8,000 new hirings will be made in 2011 with priority given to education, health and insurance. A new payroll system for the public sector will be operational by the end of 2011.5. Cutting overspending in health.6. Industrial relations. A new draft bill will be presented by the end of the year giving business agreements more power over sector agreements within certain limits without hitting the minimum wage.7. Opening up of regulated professions. A draft bill will be approved in the first quarter of 2011.8. Business environment-growth. An action plan to deregulate energy markets will be presented by the end of 2011.9. Financial sector. Restructuring ATEbank (in the fourth quarter of 2010) and operational division of a Savings and Loans Fund (first quarter of 2011).10. Better management of state real estate property-privatisations with the aim to raise 7.0 billion euros in the 2011-2013 period and at least 1.0 billion euros in 2011.Papaconstantinou said Greece was and will continue to be in a volatile international environment with great difficulties resulting to fluctuations in bond yield spreads. He said that an updated memorandum will be signed with the troika within the next 10 days. Source: ANAlast_img read more