Archives For Laker News

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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Robert Upshaw recently signed a partially guaranteed two-year contract to join the Lakers for summer league. The odds of him fulfilling this contract by making the final roster are up to interpretation, but he has a steep climb ahead of him to beat out players the Lakers have invested more into than the undrafted free agent with the checkered past.

Upshaw, though, is seemingly looking forward to making the Lakers’ decision as difficult as possible. One way to accomplish that is by getting into the best shape possible after not looking to be in great condition for the team’s summer league team in Las Vegas. And it looks like he’s done just that.

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Last month, Kobe Bryant started shooting for the first time since surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff prematurely ended his season. Last week, Mitch Kupchak updated us that Kobe was on track to be ready for the start of training camp.

Well, today, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding is telling us Kobe is, in fact, all the way the back:

Bryant’s recovery from his latest devastating late-career injury, a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, is complete—and he currently has no physical limitations as he gears up for what he expects will be his final NBA season.

Bryant has been medically cleared for all basketball activities, according to league sources.

Though, via the previous updates mentioned, this was totally expected it does not make the news any less important. Kobe’s health has been the major storyline over the past three seasons and to finally have him back healthy is a plus for a team looking to make more noise than anyone really thinks they can.

Any success this team has will be, in a major way, still influenced by how well #24 can play and lead a team that has been constructed, at least partially, around him and what he can still provide. Add to the equation this potentially being his final season and the combination of hope with nostalgia brew a potent cocktail Lakers’ fans are ready to throw down.

The questions about what Kobe will be able to provide and whether he can remain healthy will always be present this season, but, at least for now, he’s back and ready to go. Camp can’t get here soon enough.

Bring up the name Steve Nash to Lakers’ fans and prepare to get some blowback about draft picks, injuries, and, essentially, a bunch of regret. But, while Nash’s time on the court couldn’t have been more difficult, his time off it did lend itself to some Lakers’ success, especially when he started to work out with Jordan Clarkson.

Well, it seems Nash is taking these skills north to the new darling of the Pacific Division:

I’ve no clue whether such a role was ever discussed between the Lakers and Nash. Considering Nash is based in Los Angeles and, as noted above, had a history of providing tutoring to Clarkson, I would hope it would have. When you consider the Lakers also just drafted D’Angelo Russell who, after summer league ended, said he would like to work out with Nash…well, let’s just say this announcement that Nash will likely work with the Warriors is disappointing.

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Lakers’ training camp opens in 15 days and, with Monday’s signing of Robert Upshaw to a two-year contract, there’s no better time than now to provide an update on the team’s roster. As it stands the Lakers now have 18 players under contract:

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Robert Upshaw told us he was going to go to Lakers’ training camp and it looks like he was right. Today the team officially announced his signing via press release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed center Robert Upshaw to a multi-year contract, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

The still unknown terms of the contract are important, but likely not a huge difference maker here. My assumption is that Upshaw’s deal is either fully non-guaranteed like Marcelo Huertas’ or has only small, partial guarantees like those given to Jonathan Holmes and Michael Frazier. In either case, Upshaw will have to prove his worth in training camp to crack the final 15 and earn a roster spot. (UPDATE: Baxter Holmes of ESPN is reporting Upshaw’s deal has a partial guarantee in the 1st year and is fully non-guaranteed in the 2nd year. While not outright stated, I am assuming his contract is for the minimum both years.)

(UPDATE II: Eric Pincus of the LA Times is reporting that $35K of Upshaw’s first year salary is guaranteed. The 2nd year, as Holmes also reported, is non-guaranteed. The totals for the contract are (roughly) $525K in year one and $875K in year 2.)

The fact that we’ve gotten to this point, though, should not be ignored. Yes, Upshaw said he’d be joining camp (while adding he thinks he’ll make the team), but the rhetoric coming out of the Lakers’ front office did not make any such assurances. Those statements were likely just the carrot the team was hanging out in front of the big man as motivation to do what was needed of him, but the chance he wouldn’t was always there.

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