Earlier in the week it was D’Angelo Russell’s foot which limited him in practice. We have also recently learned that Metta World Peace has been dealing with a calf issue which kept him out of a couple of practices too. Now, for Saturday’s session, it’s two rookies who are banged up and sitting out:

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A Few Pre-Preseason Notes

Anthony Irwin —  October 3, 2015 — 7 Comments

Well, here we are. The offseason has finally passed (kind of) and the Lakers finally play their first live basketball since the summer league. All the pieces we’ve hypothetically pieced together will share a court at last, so here are some things I’ll be looking for.


If you’ve followed my tweets at all, I’ve been skeptical of how Byron’s run camp thus far. In my opinion, with the mixture of veterans and youth all trying to learn the system together with little to no actual expectations this season, I don’t understand the need to extend practices for any reason. Strategically, there’s no need to squeeze extra sets in before the first of several meaningless games. In terms of conditioning, that tends to come as an 82-game season rolls along.

So you can imagine my distaste as we heard D’Angelo Russell gave it a go in the second practice in the same day after limping off the court only hours prior. I just don’t understand the necessity to get back on the court so quickly given (a) recent history and (b) how many hours will be spent in the gym in the coming months, anyway.

Back to the point at hand, though.

I’ll be interested to see how minutes are dolled out in this first game simply out of curiosity for whatever precedent might be set Sunday. There’s no reason to play to win, so veterans shouldn’t get extended minutes and younger players who know they have a spot on the roster should be played conservatively as well, in my opinion. This first game should be used to see what guys at the end of the roster offer, with cuts coming soon.

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As is his norm, Byron Scott has been putting the Lakers through rigorous training camps in these opening days. The first practice of camp when over three hours while days two and three both offered two workouts each. The team seems to be responding well, drawing praise from Scott after all the sessions for their “spirit” and competitiveness, but it nonetheless can get grueling.

Part of putting in this much work is that the nicks and bruises can start to take hold. D’Angelo Russell is finding this out after dealing with a “minor” (his words) bone bruise in his foot towards the end of Thursday’s first practice session. From Mike Trudell at Lakers.com:

Lakers No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell sat out the final few minutes of Thursday’s practice due to a bone bruise in his right foot, an injury he believes to be minor enough that he may play in the team’s second practice on Thursday evening.

“I feel fine,” Russell said. “It’s just a little bruise.”

The 19-year-old suggested that he needs to take better care to ice his foot, and hopes it’s just a small flare up due in part to all of the running the team’s been doing for the first three days of Byron Scott’s training camp.

“We’ll see how he feels later on tonight, see if he can go tonight,” said Scott. “And if not – if he has pain there – we’ll sit him down for precautionary reasons and we’ll get him ready for tomorrow. But right now he’s not ruled out for tonight’s practice.”

The Lakers are right to be cautious with Russell — they’re right to be with any player, really — who is just beginning his professional career. Even if he says he’s fine. After all, if he really is the gym rat he’s said to be, he’ll typically try to find his way onto the court. It’s important, then, that all sides be on the same page and, with Scott’s comments, it seems everyone is taking the proper approach here.

The good news, however, is that Russell does seem to be fine, especially if the standard is whether he returned to practice for Thursday night’s session:

Again, the Lakers can’t be too cautious with their prized rookie, but they also can’t treat him with kid gloves. If he says he’s pain free and the doctors check him out deem him good to go, getting out on the floor should be fine. The team will surely continue to monitor him and if any pain returns they can sit him down similar to how they did in the day’s earlier session.

James Worthy’s hire to work with the Lakers’ big men was met with somewhat mixed reactions. While almost everyone recognizes Worthy’s greatness as a player, it’s also fair to question whether that greatness can translate into teaching and, maybe more importantly, whether his hire signals another case of the Lakers falling into the trap of seeking out candidates inside the organization (or Lakers Family) rather than going outside the castle walls for people who may be just as good (or better) to fill these roles.

It’s an interesting discussion and one worth having. But it’s also one for another day. James Worthy has been hired. He’s in Hawaii right now, going through practices and working with the team’s big men. The topic, then, shifts from how he may have gotten here to what he’s doing now that he is. If Worthy ends up being good at this job — something only time will tell — no one will really care that the Lakers turned to him rather than, say, somebody from a different organization with a stellar reputation. This is how it goes.

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We can all see the finish line. It grows closer by the second, presenting itself as the end of an organizational epoch, the end of a relationship. The finish line’s visibility isn’t new, but only now is there a discernible level of tangibility, only now does it feel real. While it is tough to sway attention from this particular verisimilitude, the end of Kobe Bryant’s career shouldn’t be the full focus of his 20th season.

While it’s easy to tumble down the rabbit hole of what Bryant’s retirement means for this season, there are still at least 82 Lakers basketball games between now and when that ostensibly becomes a real thing. And within each of the remaining games left on Kobe’s ticket, there will be hundreds upon thousands of individual moments – some big, some small – for us to hang our hats on and discuss. It’s those singular moments that have captivated us for the last 19 years, and it’s those individual moments that will make this season memorable.

This iteration of the Lakers is fascinating on many levels. There hasn’t been an organizational influx of youth since the beginning of Bryant’s career, and that influx is infused with a collection of veterans who have something to prove – and Bryant is among those who is set on playing above preseason expectations. The last thousand days are – literally – marred because of injury, but between surgeries and rehabilitation, we’ve seen flashes of what makes him great, flashes that bespoke the acumen of his brilliance.

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Byron Scott would be the first one to tell you that he’s old-school. Even if no one uttered those words to you, however, you would still figure it out from the way he’s managed his teams and through an examination of his overall basketball philosophy.

When it comes to training camp, this translates to conditioning. Lots of conditioning. We have to remember, as a player, Byron came up in an era where players worked themselves into shape during camp. And while players today are much more conscientious about the type of shape they keep themselves in during the off-season — as the slogan goes, basketball never stops — as a coach, he still uses camp as a way to work his players hard to ensure they are ready for the season.

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(photo credit: NBC Los Angeles)

As we wrote yesterday, media day is mostly a circus. And when you’re Kobe Bryant, heading into your 20th season, coming off three straight years of season ending injuries, and playing on a newly constructed team where as many as five players (by my count, at least) will be rookies, the circus wants your take on it all.

This is, pretty much, the summary of media day. Kobe, engulfed by a media scrum, speaking on everything from how he feels physically to the prospect of this being his last season to his Lakers’ allegiance to getting this new team on the same page to, well, whatever other topic you can think of about this upcoming season. Kobe, as he has in recent years, provided honest insight, honest push-back, and an honest reflection of where he’s been, is, and wants to go.

With that, let’s get to the links of the day, starting with, you guessed it, words on Kobe Bryant…

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I told you earlier that Media Day, with its assortment of rehashed quotes, wasn’t really a place where we would learn anything new about the team, but it seems I have spoken to soon. At the start of today’s session, Mitch Kupchak announced the team has hired James Worthy to the team’s coaching staff. From the press release:

Worthy will work with head coach Byron Scott and his staff, focusing his attention on working with the Lakers big men. He will accompany the team to Hawaii for training camp and will continue to work with Lakers players throughout the season. Worthy will also continue his role on Time Warner Cable SportsNet as an analyst for the network’s Lakers coverage.

Worthy takes on a role which used to be occupied by Kurt Rambis under Phil Jackson and is a call to the team’s glorious past and one which can hopefully pay dividends in the future. As the Lakers noted in their release, Worthy was one of the best Forwards of his era, specializing in the type of mid and low post work which has often been lost in the translation to today’s game where big men often stretch to the 3-point line.

One player who Worthy might be able to pay immediate dividends with is Julius Randle. Randle’s turn and face game where a dynamic first step is a foundation of his attack is very similar to the style Worthy played as the Lakers’ small forward during Showtime. Worthy was able to mix a good mid-range jumper with his explosive first step and a fantastic finishing touch around the rim which are two key areas Randle can improve on in his continued development.

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