Can LA Lakers’ young core entice Kevin Durant this offseason?

first_imgThe Lakers’ game plan will call on guards D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson to find a way somehow to slow down Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. The Lakers’ scouting report will also call on Kobe Bryant to defend Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, adding another intriguing wrinkle toward how Bryant will match up with another younger player that emulated many of his scoring traits.But the Lakers (4-22) face a heavy assignment that goes beyond whether they can upset the Oklahoma City Thunder (17-9) on Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. It also marks the first of many positive impressions the Lakers hope they can leave on Durant, who will surely represent the Lakers’ primary target in free agency this offseason. “We have to develop our core players,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in an interview with Los Angeles News Group. “When you’re recruiting a veteran free agent, especially a free agent that may have to take less money to come to your city, they want to know who they’re going to play with.”Free-agent prospects, such as Durant, should know who they will play with should they join the Lakers. Although he considered it “not an easy thought,” Kupchak acknowledged Bryant’s pending retirement this season will open up enough cap space to sign two free agents to maximum-size contracts. Meanwhile, Russell, Clarkson and Julius Randle are expected to represent the Lakers’ long-term future. But will those three players blossom enough to persuade a marquee free agent enough that a future partnership would lead to NBA championships?“It’s hard to convince a veteran free agent to come to L.A. because they’re going to love our No. 2 pick (Russell). Or they’re going to love playing with our seventh pick from a year ago (Randle),” Kupchak said. “But we’re hoping that all three of these guys can develop and go into the offseason so that we can say to prospective veteran free agents, ‘Listen you’ve seen them play this year, come play with them.’”Lakers coach Byron Scott chuckled at questions about free agency, arguing that “we’re not worried about the summer right now or who we’re trying to sell.” But just as Scott boldly projected that Russell, Randle and Clarkson “can be All-Star-type caliber players,” he noted all three have to improve on “everything.”The Lakers have raved about Russell’s playmaking, vision and improving shooting stroke. But as he’s averaged 11.9 points on only 39.9-percent shooting and 3.5 assists per game, Scott wants Russell to improve on defense and establish consistency with running the offense. “I haven’t set any goals, honestly. I go with the flow and work hard to get better in practice and every game,” Russell said. “Once we know each other’s personnel, it will click.” The Lakers have praised Clarkson for averaging 14.9 points per game on 46.3-percent shooting a season after the No. 46 pick of the 2014 NBA Draft landed on the NBA’s All-Rookie first team. But the Lakers want him to share the ball more. “When I’m driving most of the time, I have two or three guys around me,” Clarkson said. “I have to learn to kick out to my teammates better. That’s what great players do. They make their teammates better.”The Lakers have gushed about Randle’s power and versatility, resulting in him becoming one of nine NBA players to post at least 12 double-doubles. He has also averaged 9.5 rebounds, which ranks first among second-year players and seventh in the NBA overall. Yet, Scott has called for Randle to develop consistency with his off-ball defense, right hand and jumper.“That’s nothing you can fix during the season. We can’t try to change it now. Then he’ll start to think about everything,” Scott said. “I just want to make sure we can break it all down in three or four months. Then in the summertime, we can finesse the new techniques that will hopefully help him next year.”But in the summertime, the Lakers will also assemble their roster. Clarkson will likely seek a significant raise as a restricted free agent after making $845,000 this season. But the Lakers are interested in retaining him and can match any offer he receives. The Lakers are projected to have only seven players under contract for the 2016-17 season at $26.3 million, leaving them with about $65 million in purchasing power. That leaves the Lakers’ young core aware their long-term development will largely influence whether that available money will land a big catch.“That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to go all out, lay the ground work and play hard every night,” Randle said. “But we’ll let management take care of that. I obviously don’t have a say in that type of stuff. We just trust them.”Meanwhile, Kupchak insisted that he trusts Scott’s decision to feature Randle and Russell off the bench despite what those two mean to the team’s future. Randle has averaged 28.4 minutes per game as a starter, while logging 24.2 minutes per contest as a reserve. Russell has appeared in 28.3 minutes per game as a starter, and has played 27.3 minutes per contest as a reserve. “It’s a fine line,” Kupchak said. “You have to earn your minutes. But you have to play to get better. Which comes first? Generally speaking, they were going to play X amount of minutes no matter what. But that’s not my decision.”Soon enough, it will be Durant time to decide whether the Lakers’ youth project also correlates into a free-agent destination spot. center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Nimba ‘Mandingoes’ US$500M Trial at ECOWAS Court

first_imgThe Mandingoes in Ganta are claiming that their rights have been grossly violated by the government and have, therefore, sought justice at the ECOWAS Court.-But Gov’t says case is inadmissibleThe regional ECOWAS Court in Abuja, Nigeria is expected to shortly commence hearing into the lawsuit against the Government of Liberia by ethnic Mandingoes hailing from Ganta, Nimba County under the banner, ‘Ganta Support Group.’The Mandingoes in Ganta are claiming that their rights have been grossly violated by the government and have, therefore, sought justice at the ECOWAS Court. They are asking the Liberian government to pay the sum of US$500 million as compensation for the violations of their human rights to life, dignity, housing, property, development, and peace.On their behalf, the Ganta Support Group Incorporated and Sekou Sanoe have also called for an order of mandatory injunction, compelling the government to restore their ancient homes, lands and properties. The complainants have requested the Court to place a perpetual injunction restraining the government and her agents, privies, and servants from further attacking the Mandingoes in the county.But the government in its brief, said it has nothing to do with the case, but only intervened to promote, protect and reconcile the dispute to avert future conflict in the City.The government said the Applicants’ application is inadmissible and should be quashed because it has failed to state or demonstrate any act or conduct on the part of the government of the Republic of Liberia which is indicative of a characteristic violation of fundamental human rights of the Applicants.“A declaration that the Applicants’ Application is inadmissible and should be quashed because it fails to state or demonstrate any act or conduct which is indicative of the Applicants capacity to sue, because only real parties of interest have the right to question the constitutionality of a statute or ordinance to waste the Court’s time,” the government said in its motion for preliminary objection.The government’s briefs were signed by Attorney Wesseh A. Wesseh, Assistant Minister for Litigation; Director of Civil Litigation, Cllr. Gartor Tate; Attorney Lafayette B. Gould, Sr., Special Assistant to the Solicitor-General and Solicitor General Cllr. J. Daku Mulbah on June 15, 2018.The case was brought before the ECOWAS Court by the Ganta Support Group and Sekou A. Sanoe, who claimed to be suing on behalf of 823 displaced and victimized family heads of the Mandingo people. The suit emanated from a long-standing land dispute, which was offset by an alleged illegal occupation of the land and properties of residents of Ganta (mainly the Mandingo people), who fled the country during the war only to return, and to find their properties occupied.According to the suit, “the Mandingo people have been the owners of the properties in Nimba County from time immemorial.”In 2006, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf set up an ad-hoc committee headed by former Internal Affairs Minister, Ambulai B. Johnson to resolve the Nimba land disputes that had the potential to plunge Liberia into crisis. Another commission was constituted comprising only Nimbaians and presided over by Musa Hassan  Billity, himself a Mandingo from the county.The two commissions established that to achieve peace and foster reconciliation, there was the need to compensate all the squatters to enable them to vacate the properties. “With particular reference to Ganta and its environs, 250 cases out of the 280 land dispute cases were resolved and the illegal occupants were fully compensated by the defendant,” the complaint stated.The complainants, however, lamented that since the payments were done, the ‘illegal squatters’ are yet to turn over their properties of the Mandingo people.The suit further alleged that over 75 heads of families of the Mandingo citizens of Ganta and its environs in Nimba were brutally beaten, tortured and jailed in 2016 by state security forces during a peaceful rally in demand of their ancestral land. According to the aggrieved party, the Government of Liberia allocated the unoccupied portion of the embattled land to former government officials, including former President Sirleaf.Sekou Sanoe, a co-complainant, who claimed to be the administrator of his late grandfather, Nyama  Sanoe’s estate said, his late brother, Varfin Sanoe, was arrested, beaten, tortured and taken to Yekepa, and killed, because he challenged the illegal occupancy of his late grandfather’s property in Ganta.According to Sekou, the property has been forcefully encroached on and developed by the illegal occupants who have received compensation for the property from the government but have refused to leave.The complainants requested the Court to place a perpetual injunction restraining the government and her agents, privies, and servants from further attacking the Mandingos in Nimba. They further asked the Court to declare the violent attack of the peaceful rally held in Nimba in November 2016 unlawful as it violates their human rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.The government admitted to paying those squatting on the properties in settling the matter but maintained that those who received the money refused to relocate from the properties indicating that it is inconceivable to apportion such blame on the government which was intended to resolve the conflict.The government further explained that every effort by the government to amicably resolve the land dispute was rejected, ignored or challenged by the very citizens the government intended to assist by overt expression.“There is no evidence to demonstrate by way of a written instrument that the government has violated any rights of the applicants which is the Mandingo people of Ganta city.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more