Lakers assistant coaches Jim Cleamons, far left, Brian Shaw, left center,… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
The Lakers will not offer new contracts to about 20 key employees on their player-personnel side, planning to go into the looming NBA lockout with skeleton crews in several branches of the franchise.
On Monday, both members of their video department were told they would not receive contracts after this season. Last weekend, four of five members on the training staff were told the same thing.
Most, if not all, of the Lakers' scouting staff (about six employees) will not be retained after their contracts expire.
Coach Phil Jackson is not returning after this season, and four assistant coaches are in limbo because their contracts expire June 30: Brian Shaw, Frank Hamblen, Jim Cleamons and Chuck Person.
Part-time assistant coaches Craig Hodges and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are also in the last years of their contracts.
The NBA's collective bargaining agreement expires June 30. There has been no progress in negotiations between players and owners, forcing some teams to begin cost-cutting measures.
Chris Bodaken started with the Lakers as a ball boy in 1986 and had been with them full time for 18 years, 10 as their director of video services. He was also an assistant coach under Rudy Tomjanovich in the 2004-05 season.
Patrick O'Keefe has been the team's video coordinator since Jackson returned to coach the Lakers in 2005. O'Keefe was with the Clippers' video staff for two years before that.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak declined to comment.
Artest wins award
Not long ago, the concept of Ron Artest winning a citizenship award was laughable.
Nobody laughed at the notion Tuesday.
The Lakers' forward was selected as the winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Assn.
Named for the former NBA commissioner, the award recognizes an NBA player or coach for outstanding service and dedication to the community.
"It's something that is probably not on people's minds," Artest said, understanding the irony of the situation. "But it was something that I wanted and I'm definitely happy that I got it."
Artest declined to specifically weigh how far he had come since his nefarious role in the infamous Palace Brawl in 2004.
But he has made a personal crusade of raising mental health awareness this season, appearing in front of Congress to discuss the issue and raffling off his championship ring last December to raise $600,000 for various mental health organizations.
"That was the biggest thing I've ever done in my life outside of being married and having my kids — just getting that message out there," Artest said. "A lot of kids right here at home in America are not doing well. I want to see those kids have an opportunity whether they are on drugs or abused or lack confidence or are being bullied, cyber-bullied or [have] family issues. I try to help out."
Other finalists were Portland center Marcus Camby, Orlando center Dwight Howard and Chicago forward Kyle Korver.