Archives For Laker News

When Kobe Bryant left Tuesday’s loss against the Kings with a “lower left leg contusion”, Byron Scott noted he was not concerned and him not returning to the game was precautionary. Kobe proceeded to miss Thursday’s practice and, still, Byron was not concerned. Kobe did some light shooting on Friday, but really did not practice, is still sore, and there’s still swelling. Byron is not concerned, but with a game on Saturday, well, you know the drill.

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The Lakers’ hiring of Tracy Murray as their full-time shooting coach isn’t the only news they announced on Thursday. They also informed us they have exercised Julius Randle’s 3rd year option on his contract.

While this is important news, it is also wholly expected. The recent high lottery picks — remember, Randle went 7th in his draft — to not have their 3rd year options exercised are Hasheem Thabeet and Anthony Bennett. Those two not only severely under-performed their draft status, the fact that they went number 2 and 1 overall in their respective drafts meant they carried very high costs in comparison to other rookies in their class*.

Even though Randle has already missed an entire season due to a serious injury, he’s actually showing he can play. His summer league stats — 12.8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.2 steals — reflect positive steps from the glimpses we got in the past two summer leagues and last year’s preseason. At the money he will be slated to earn next season (roughly $3.26 million), he is a bargain. Especially as the cap makes its first in what could be multiple huge jumps due to the new national TV deal.

Ultimately, then, this is good business. But it also reflects where Randle is seen as going in his career. As I discussed with Nate Duncan, I think Randle’s game — especially offensively — is exactly what teams will be looking for from their PF’s in the years to come. The Lakers, then, are simply taking the steps in order to ensure he stays in house.

*For comparison’s sake, Randle, as the #7 pick last year will make $3.13 million this season. D’Angelo Russell, as the #2 pick from this year, will make $5.1 million. Already, you see the difference between guys picked as high as Russell vs. those picked in the 2nd half of the lottery like Randle. 

Before training camp, the Lakers hired Tracy Murray as a “shooting consultant” — a temporary role for camp which had the chance of blossoming into a more permanent one. That day has arrived as the Lakers have named the former Bruin (and Laker) as their shooting coach for the upcoming season. From the press release:

In his position, Murray will work with head coach Byron Scott and his staff, focusing on improving the players shooting form and technique.

“I’ve known Tracy a long time, and he was one of the purest shooters I’ve ever seen,” said Scott. “I think he’ll be a benefit to our players, especially our young guys, and I look forward to working with him as a member of our staff.”

As I wrote when Murray was brought on in his consultant role, this type of hire is a good look for the Lakers. They have not always invested in these types of specialist coaches, but considering the revenue the team generates and the fact positions like these do not count against the cap in any way, it is good to see the organization leverage some of their resources to add to their player development team.

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D’Angelo Russell challenged a dunk attempt by the Jazz’s Rudy Gobert early in the Lakers’ second preseason game and hasn’t played since. Marcelo Huertas strained his hamstring before the Lakers even played a preseason game and has yet to see any game action. The good news is that both are nearing returns to the floor. The bad news is that it may not be in Sunday’s contest against Maccabi Haifa.

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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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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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Once the word leaked this was a possibility, maybe we should have known this was always coming. We really should have known when it was reported this was getting closer. It turns out, today is that day. If you didn’t read the title of this post and have no clue what I’m talking about, the Lakers will (reportedly) sign Metta World Peace:

As simple as it would seem a deal like this would be, nothing is ever really like that, is it? At his pre-training camp press conference, Mitch Kupchak spoke today about the positive influence he believes Metta can have on the lockerroom, in helping to mentor young players, and in passing down knowledge from his decade-plus career as an impact (and elite) defender. Noting that, while observing him in scrimmages and pick-up game sessions, MWP could still play is also meaningful.

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Julius Randle had a frustrating rookie season, watching from the sideline for all but 12 minutes of his first campaign while healing up from a broken leg. Randle’s frustrations continued through summer league this past July as a he had a strict minutes restriction that saw him capped at 20 minutes a night while also sitting out back to back games.

Heading into the season, however, the hope was that those frustrations would dissipate. Randle has been working hard on his game, his body, and, via word of mouth, he looks very good. Just because he’s progressing nicely, though, does not guarantee his frustrations will be fully behind him. Especially if he was hoping to get a solid endorsement from his head coach about being the starting power forward once the season began.

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