Archives For Morning Links

From Ryan Ward, Lakers Nation: At 34 years-old, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers sustained the most severe injury of his NBA career. With a torn Achilles tendon, Kobe was sidelined for the remainder of the last season while the team was attempting to lock up a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Ultimately, the Lakers played their way into the postseason without Kobe in the lineup, but were swept by the San Antonio Spurs and faced a lot of uncertainty heading into the off-season. The major concern was Kobe’s health and whether or not he’d be able to return at some point next season or if he’d be able to continue playing at an elite level. While making an incredible recovery from surgery to repair the torn Achilles, Kobe has been doing his best to prove to all the doubters that he’ll be back to form much earlier than anticipated. One of Kobe’s attempts to prove he was making considerable progress in his recovery was jumping off a 40-foot high dive into a pool.

From Eric Pincus, LA Times: To make the playoffs, the Lakers need to be better than seven teams in the Western Conference. In the first three of 14 entries, the Lakers were ruled better than theNew Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns but not as good as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Are the Lakers better than the San Antonio Spurs? Tony Parker is often be overlooked on the list of top point guards, but he shouldn’t be. The Lakers, like most of the league, always seem to have problems covering Parker. The Spurs were seconds away from winning the NBA title last season and Parker was a major reason why. Last season he averaged 20.3 points a game with 7.6 assists. San Antonio also has Corey Joseph and Patty Mills behind Parker. Steve Nash, at his best with the Phoenix Suns, was almost always stymied by the Spurs in the playoffs. The Lakers have better depth at the point than they did last year with Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar — more than the Spurs can boast.
From Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo Sports: Earlier in the offseason, we fretted over the prospect of Kobe Bryant returning too soon and shouldering too heavy a burden as he recovered from his Achilles tear from last April. Bryant is no stranger to playing through significant pain, few NBA players in history have gutted through more, but a tear like this (especially at an age like Bryant’s) is a significant departure from the broken fingers and fluid-filled knees that Kobe has had to deal with in seasons past. Second to Kobe, only one man knows Bryant’s body better. Lakers trainer Gary Vitti has been a Kobe confidante since his rookie season in 1996-97, and despite some misgivings over Bryant’s social media-related offseason choices, Vitti says Bryant is taking an exacting, intelligent approach to what will be a career-altering rehabilitation.
From J.M. Poulard, Bleacher Report: Steve Nash did not play up to his capabilities in 2012-13 with the Los Angeles Lakers. There are a couple of things he can do to bounce back in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. The biggest obstacle Nash faced in his first season in Los Angeles was a lack of touches. D’Antoni ran the offense through Kobe Bryant and tasked him with most of the playmaking responsibilities. That meant Bryant was responsible for setting up Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Thus, because Bryant handled the ball most of the time, Nash was relegated to the role of floor spacer. Synergy Sports tells us that 17.8 percent of his field goals came in spot-up situations. That is the highest share of these types of shot attempts Nash has recorded since Synergy Sports began tracking the stat in 2009-10.

From Phillip Barnett, Lakers Nation: During the Lakers 2002 championship campaign, they had to go through the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Finals before they were able to finish off their three-peat with a sweep over the New Jersey Nets. That WCF against the Kings would prove to be the Lakers toughest test as the Kings would take the Lakers to an epic seven game series that saw Robert Horry’s most famous shot and Shaquille O’Neal calling the team the “Queens.” Lots has changed since then, the Lakers would go on to win two more titles while the Kings have been a lottery team for seven of the 11 years. The vitriol between the two teams has cooled down tremendously since the series, and even the the players in the series don’t seem to hate the other team quite as much as they did over a decade ago. This hasn’t been anymore evident than in the recent news that O’Neal has become a minority owner of the team,according to USA Today’s Sam Amick.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Mike D’Antoni leaned heavily on Steve Nash last season, when he could. A broken leg and an assortment of other injuries kept Nash down to 50 games last season, but when he did play he averaged 32.5 minutes a game. Up from the season before. With the Lakers moving this season toward a more pure version of what coach Mike D’Antoni wants to run (after having to modify it heavily due to Dwight Howard and the rest of an ill-fitting roster last season) we could see more Nash. But with Nash at age 39, turning 40 during the season, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti suggested maybe a reduction in minutes, as he told Mark Medina of the Daily News.

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Forget all that stuff about Kobe Bryant returning from an Achilles’ tendon injury this season. It’ll happen at some point. The real question involves next season. He might not return at all to the Lakers. Bryant is entering the last nine months of his contract, a season worth $30.45 million before he can become a free agent in July. He has known only one team in his 17-year career and often says he’ll be a Laker for life, but will that be the case? The Lakers haven’t opened contract negotiations with Bryant, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, taking a wait-and-see approach as he recovers from his injury. Bryant, 35, has done incredible things for the franchise, pushing it to five championships and two other NBA Finals appearances in his 17 seasons. His jersey is continually among the league’s top sellers, his first name easily recognizable even with non-sports fans.

From ESPN News Services: Jeanie Buss, the chief of the Los Angeles Lakers’ business operations and fiancee of Hall of Famer Phil Jackson, wrote in an upcoming update to her “Laker Girl” memoir that she felt the hiring of Mike D’Antoni as head coach last year instead of Jackson was “a betrayal.” Buss, in an excerpt published Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, wrote she felt she “got played,” referring to the decision ultimately made by her brother Jim, which she has said took her and Jackson by surprise and had been an unsettling experience. “Why did they have to do that?” Jeanie Buss wrote in the November edition of the book first published in 2010. “Why did Jim pull Phil back into the mix if he wasn’t sincere about it? …”Phil wasn’t looking for the job, and then he wasted 36 hours of his life preparing for it when they were never in a million years going to hire him anyway.”How do you do that to your sister? How do you do that to Phil Jackson?”

From Corey Hansford, Lakers Nation: Everyone in America remembers where they were on November 7, 1991. On that day, Magic Johnson announced to the world that he had contracted the HIV virus and would have to immediately retire from the NBA, ending one of the most illustrious careers in the history of the league. Despite announcing his retirement, Johnson’s name was already on the All-Star ballots that had been sent out to all NBA arenas, leading to Johnson being voted as a starter for the Western Conference despite never stepping on the court. Many people were against Johnson playing, most notably Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone and even Johnson’s former Laker teammates Byron Scott and A.C. Green, as they were unsure whether or not they could contract the HIV virus if Johnson were to suffer an open wound while playing.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: This is why there is drug testing in the NBA. Not that Metta World Peace is on drugs or needs them to say something outrageous. Never has and never will. He was certainly excessively boastful of what the Lakers could and would do when he was a member of that team. This summer the Lakers decided to amnesty him but that doesn’t mean he’s given up the over-the-top Lakers predictions — he made another one to ESPNNewYork.com. “I think the Lakers are going to go to the NBA Finals,” World Peace said during a signing for his children’s book “Metta’s Bedtime Stories” in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday.”

From Eric Pincus, LA Times: Veteran point guard Steve Blake says he believes that the Lakers will exceed expectations this season. “I’m still a little bit surprised about how negative people are on us right now,” Blake told Mike Trudell of Lakers.com on Tuesday. “If you speak to most of the players, we’re all pretty optimistic,” Blake said. “I think the fact that people don’t believe in us this year might give us an advantage somehow.” Blake has joined nearly the entire roster in informal workouts at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. Two still out are Kobe Bryant, recovering from an Achilles injury, and Pau Gasol who is in Europe (primarily Spain) while rehabbing his knees. It’s unclear if either will be ready by opening night on Oct. 29.

From Kevin Ding, Bleacher Report: The first words Kobe Bryant ever said to me came with a sideways smile. “I look forward to reading your criticisms.”Bryant was 20, nearing the end of his third NBA season with stardom and backlash already his reality show. He stood, spoke and soon laughed in front of his locker at The Forum, the Lakers’ old home, in 1999. Already cocksure then, still cocksure now. Today he’s 35, and we’ve been together every step of that way…with an awful lot transpiring in what has to be considered one of the most interesting lives you’ll ever see play out. And in all honesty, there are not many people in my life I understand better than him.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Pretty much any fan of the Los Angeles Lakers will tell you that the last three seasons haven’t been very fun, with the 2012-13 season falling much closer to painful than joyful on the experience scale. “We were stacked and it was an epic failure,” said Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist and Lakers super fan, Flea, in a recent podcast with LandOLakers.com. “For me, it was the most disappointing Lakers season of all time and not even close to any other season.” From the embarrassing ending to Phil Jackson’s final campaign, to the uninspiring Mike Brown era (L.A. topped 100 points just 24 times in the 71 regular-season games he coached), to the utter disaster of last season, the return on investment of time, money and emotion spent by Lakers fans has not resulted in any sort of payoff. I know what that life’s all about, having grown up as a Philadelphia sports fan. Losing and frustration and disappointment come with the territory.

From Eric Pincus, LA Times: The Lakers signed free-agent forward Marcus Landry to a contract Monday. Landry was a standout on the Lakers’ summer league squad in Las Vegas, averaging 15.2 points and 4.2 rebounds a game. While a deal wasn’t signed until Monday, Landry and the Lakers had reached a tentative, unbinding agreement on a “make-good” contract in late July.  The 27-year old, 6-foot-7 forward tweeted his intentions almost two months ago. Landry will make $788,873 for the season, if he makes the team.The Lakers now have 15 players on the roster, the maximum allowed for the regular season. The team is expected to bring 16 to 20 players to training camp, including second-round draft pick Ryan Kelly (48th overall). Landry previously played for Coach Mike D’Antoni in New York for the Knicks during the 2009-10 season.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Kobe Bryant’s psychology is such that when his teammates struggle on offense he quickly fills that void — he believes he is a better offensive option even if the defense is focused on him than a passive or cold teammate. That has led to some bad choices and miraculous shots over the years. Now at age 35 coming off an Achilles injury, can Kobe change is ways? It’s not me asking that question (well, not alone anyway), it is Laker legend, broadcaster and Hall of Famer James Worthy. He spoke with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “One of the biggest challenges for Kobe this year is, can he step back?” Worthy said. “He’s been in the league for 17 years, has a lot of miles on the body and has had a lot of injuries. Can he find a game that will allow other guys to flourish?”

From Matt More, CBS Sports: The big question for the Lakers, and one of the biggest questions for next season period, is when Kobe Bryant will return. Bryant has been aggressively rehabbing his torn achilles after surgery last spring in typical Bryant fashion. Kobe has said in recent days that the Achilles tendon feels “really, really good,” but also that he’s not sure if he’ll be ready for the season opener. Now the LA Times reports that while Lakers doctors say he’s “progressing,” the plan is for Bryant to miss all of the preseason, so his absolute earliest return would be opening night, October 29th vs. the Clippers.Kobe Bryant continues to move forward in his rehabilitation from a torn Achilles’ tendon, though the Lakers are unwilling to put an updated timetable on his exact return. “He’s progressing well and has met all the targets and milestones of his rehab, and we expect him to make a full recovery,” Lakers spokesman John Black told The Times on Monday. “One of the key issues is to make sure he builds up strength and endurance not only in his Achilles but also in his legs, knees, back and core.”

 

From Dan Duangdao, Lakers Nation: This past week, Gary Payton was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. The one-time Laker averaged 16.3 points and 6.7 assists in his career and was the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year. Payton made three Finals appearances, where he eventually won his one and only championship with the Miami Heat in 2006. Another former Laker is also eligible for the Hall of Fame, and there is much debate about Robert Horry’s chances. While he didn’t put All-Star numbers like Chris Webber, Alonzo Mourning, Anfernee Hardaway, or Eddie Jones, Horry is considered one of the greatest clutch performers in the game. He wasn’t any ordinary role player as he has the fourth most championships in NBA History with seven and is one of only two players to win with three different teams.

From Marc Stein, ESPN:After two seasons in Turkey, former Lakers and Nets guard Sasha Vujacic is determined to force his way back into the NBA. Sources briefed on the Slovenian’s thinking told ESPN.com that Vujacic is working out feverishly in L.A. in hopes of landing an NBA roster spot following his stint with Anadolu Efes that began during the 2011-12 lockout. Word is Vujacic, now 29, has been playing well in L.A. pickup games and plans to stay stateside in pursuit of an NBA deal as opposed to returning to Europe. “He’s in the best shape of his life,” one source offered, “which is saying something because Sasha has always taken care of himself.” Vujacic last played in the NBA with New Jersey in 2010-11.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: When you talk about the guy whose game opened the door for Dr. J and eventually Michael Jordan and all that followed, it was Elgin Baylor. He would get the ball out at the top of the key and could blow by his defender to dunk going either way, or if you pulled back to stop the drive he would knock down the jumper. He was a gifted passer and one of the best rebounders at the three the position has seen. You want numbers? Baylor finished his career averaging 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds a game. He was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, 10 time All NBA First Team, and an 11 time All Star. He is in the Hall of Fame (plus went on to coach for four years and be the Clippers GM for 22 years, but that didn’t go as well as his career). Happy birthday to Baylor, who turns 79 today. Here is a look back at his game.

From Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated: Kobe Bryant’s 2012-13 season ended in gruesome fashion when he tore his left Achilles tendon during an April game against the Warriors. Well, it actually ended after the Lakers’ All-Star guard walked back onto the court after a timeout to take two free throws following the initial injury.That decision to keep playing rather than head immediately to the locker room — not to mention the fact that he made both shots — will always have a place in Kobe lore. While speaking with Nike employees at the apparel manufacturer’s Oregon headquarters on Friday, Bryant explained what exactly was going through his mind at the time of the injury, which occurred as he attempted to drive to his left past Harrison Barnes.“When I first did it, right there, I was trying to feel if the tendon is there or if it’s gone,” Bryant recalled, in comments recorded by Nike. “I realized it wasn’t there. I was literally trying to pull the tendon up so hopefully I could walk and kind of hobble through the last two and a half minutes and try to play.” It’s safe to say that the free throws were just the beginning of his plan.

The 11th Man

Dave Murphy —  September 13, 2013

Mike D’Antoni went on the airwaves earlier this summer, theorizing about an 11-man Lakers rotation. On the one hand D’Antoni is as adverse to extended lineups as he is half-court basketball. Further, trying to speculate on what that rotation might look like, weeks before training camp even begins, is a sublimely ridiculous thing to do. Regardless, people need to read and people need to write and given that I haven’t posted here in ages, this exercise in futility seems strangely appropriate.

Few would have predicted the Lakers’ ground-zero meltdown last season. If it was bad it happened and that basically covers the bases. Health concerns will once again be front and center when it comes to planning and contingencies. Nobody can predict what Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash will bring to the table, coming off rehab. Nobody can predict what anyone will bring. All across the league, decision makers hope for the best, plan for the worst and roll the dice. Here at home, management has been signing wild cards left and right. It’s not the usual Lakers way and it won’t be the usual season. The rash of step deals at league minimum will allow for an extended evaluation period – guys will be playing like they mean it and they’ll also be playing for the opportunity to have a seat at the table for the great rebuild of 2014.

Here’s four key Lakers acquisition this summer and how they could play into Coach D’Antoni’s system.

Jordan Farmar presented something of a riddle for the Lakers during their first go-round. Drafted out of UCLA, the Los Angeles native was cocky, quick and a round peg in Phil Jackson’s triangle system. The fact that he played backup to Smush Parker that season provided some unintentional comedy relief. There were ample other opportunities to try Phil’s patience, including Kwame Brown, Vlad Rad and the rise of the Machine. It should be noted that Farmar replaced Smush in the starting lineup for the last two games of the regular season, as well as the playoffs. It was a summer of discontent for Kobe Bryant however and management responded in part by bringing Derek Fisher back. The move cemented Farmar’s position as a back-up. He won a couple rings but eventually left to free agency and the New Jersey Nets. Farmar most recently played for Turkey’s Anadolu Efes. He accepted the league minimum to return to Los Angeles, noting that the idea of playing for Coach D’Antoni played a major part in his decision. The guard-driven pick and roll system should be a good fit.

Nick Young has been the subject of a number of good articles. Dan Devine for Ball Don’t Lie summed up the free-wheeling guard succinctly:

“The cold reality of course, is that Nick Young will break your heart; Wizard fans know this all too well. He will shoot you out of games, he will disinterestedly defend you out of games, he will refuse to pass you out of games, he will lackadaisically not-box you out of games – he is an incredibly versatile player, lose-you-games-wise. But in those moments when the shot’s falling, when everybody’s clicking and his joy is irrepressible… he’s pure and unadulterated fun in a way that few NBA players are. There’s room for that. There has to be.”

Young’s natural position is at shooting guard but he’s reportedly penciled in at the starting small forward slot for the Lakers. Whether that comes to pass is anybody’s guess. The situation will be in a word, fluid. Coach D’Antoni will get a taste of what Flip Saunders and Doug Collins had to deal with in the past. Then again, Swaggy P can do this.

When it comes to cautionary tales and reclamation projects, Shawne Williams is a quintessential case. The former #17 Pacers draft pick hasn’t played since an abbreviated stint with the Nets during the 2010-11 season. He was subsequently traded to Portland and waived. Williams has been busted numerous times, lost an older brother to street violence and flamed out at nearly every NBA stop along the way. The 2010-11 season was an exception. As a combo forward for Mike D’Antoni and the New York Knicks, Williams provided tough defense and a consistent outside stroke. After helping limit LeBron James at a MSG Knicks win, Coach D’Antoni had this to say, “If you know Shawne’s background, I don’t think he’s going to be intimidated. That’s not going to be a problem. He’s coming at you, and I like that about him.” Coaches remember these moments and Williams will get a solid look this season, despite all the blown chances.

When I think of Chris Kaman, I always go back to his early years as a Clipper. The 2003 draft pick used to give Coach Mike Dunleavy (a man with a voluminous playbook), fits. The 7-foot center was prone to getting calls mixed up, or in his own words, “simply forgetting them in a matter of 10 seconds or less.” Part of the issue according to Kaman, was being misdiagnosed with ADHD as a young child. He took Ritalin for a number of years but in the summer of 2007, began working with a neuropsychologist, Dr. Tim Royer, channeling and slowing hyperactive brain patterns. Kaman became a consistent and indispensable asset to the team, getting an All-Star nod in 2010. Of course, athletes begin to break down with passing years. Kaman isn’t the player he once was but he’s still a big body, he’s experienced and hasn’t lost his mid-range jumper.

So what about Mike D’Antoni’s supposed 11-man rotation, the one that will spell much-needed relief for the creaky body parts of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash? As mentioned at the top, it’s a ridiculous hypothesis. Who could possibly know? But I promised one so health and circumstances permitting, here it is:

Starting lineup: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Pau Gasol.

Nash subs out, replaced by Jordan Farmar. Bryant subs out, replaced by Nick Young who slides back to his natural two-guard position. Shawne Williams enters at the small forward. Jordan Hill comes out and Chris Kaman comes in. The positional pairing of Kaman and Gasol is probably not that exact – they could easily switch the four/five on offensive/defensive sequences. At this point, Pau’s the main voice of reason on the floor, as well as a guy whose legs are getting tired.

We’re at eight players. What comes next? It’s not a leap of faith to assume that at some point, Swaggy P goes off the reservation, even in a Mike D’Antoni world. Enter Steve Blake, a guy who brings a modicum of stability and toughness. At  #10, my sleeper long-shot – Elias Harris. Yup, I said it. Granted he’s an undrafted rookie who may not even survive training camp. Harris is a classic role-player however, a guy who doesn’t mind the dirty work and who has impressed staff with his tenacity. Although undersized at 6-8 for the PF position, he weighs around 240 and has enough in his back pocket to move players in the paint. During his combine workouts however, Harris was well aware that NBA scouts would be evaluating him at the wing. Finally, Wesley Johnson is a former #4 overall pick and an athletic swingman who by sheer coincidence, will wear the number 11. Say no more.

At some point the summer passes and turns to the endless NBA grind. Ice baths and swollen ankles, dislocated fingers and gimpy knees. A coach looks down the bench and frowns. The choices aren’t as good as they were last week. They aren’t even as good as they were last night. He points a finger in an impossibly noisy arena. A player gets up, trying to work the stiffness out of his joints. In about 20 seconds he’ll have make a difference.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Jim Buss has become a caricature to many Lakers fans — the media shy, hard-partying son of a legendary owner who stays in the shadows, doesn’t get the tradition and doesn’t get how to run a franchise like his father. Nepotism at its worst. But like most caricatures that is a two-dimensional representation that distorts the truth. Ask people around the league and they speak of Buss as smart and measured. Listen to him speak — or read an in-depth interview with him such as the one Ramona Shelburne did at ESPNLosAngeles.com — and you get the sense of a guy who gets the incredible shadow he is living in, the near impossibility of living up to his father’s successes, and a how much he wants to do the job right. That includes owning up to the disappointment of last season.

From Ryan Ward, Lakers Nation: The 2013-14 NBA season is rapidly approaching with only 48 days left before the Los Angeles Lakers square off against their division rival, the Los Angeles Clippers, at Staples Center. With the first game of the season right around the corner, the speculation continues about when Kobe Bryant will be ready to return to the floor for the Lakers. Although there’s been multiple reports that Kobe will be ready to take on the Clippers on Oct. 29, no timetable has been set for his return. On Wednesday, a report surfaced that Kobe is still unsure if he’ll be ready for the season opener. Obviously, with Kobe’s track record for bouncing back quickly from injuries, many have shrugged this off believing that there’s no way the five-time NBA champion will miss the matchup against Chris Paul and company.

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: Because basketball is not the only sport in the world, and because the long and lonely months from June (or sometimes *gulp* April) to October can get awful boring otherwise, there are other sports teams that I root for. One of those teams, for no other reason than geographical proximity to my childhood, is the San Diego Chargers. I don’t want to waste your time with too much NFL talk, but the Chargers are … not very good. Even, as often happened in the last 5 or so years, when they were very good, they were still, somehow, not very good. And this Monday, in their first game of a new season, under a new head coach, and with lots of new players, they lost in the most Chargers way possible, building up a huge lead in the first half and then looking woefully incompetent in letting the Houston Texans score the final 24 points of the game, including a game winning field goal as time expired. What was my response to such a gut punch of a game? A smirk, a chuckle and a quiet whisper in my mind: Never change, Chargers. Never change.

From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN LA:It’s hard to say why we save the things we save when someone dies. Why a particular shirt feels meaningful or why it’s hard to delete certain voicemails. The list of things a loved one leaves in a will might be long. It’s often what they didn’t have to include in the will that sticks with you. Among other things, Jim Buss saved a voicemail from his father from Jan. 20, less than a month before the Lakers’ Hall of Fame owner, Jerry Buss, died after an 18-month battle with cancer. He has replayed it so many times he knows it by heart.” ‘Hey Jim, it’s your dad,’ ” Buss says, mimicking his father’s squeaky voice. ” ‘What an incredible waste of talent. Oh well. The experiment didn’t work.’ ”

 

From Phillip Barnett, Lakers Nation: Earlier on Monday, OC Register reporter Janis Carr was at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo and spotted a few Lakers in the building, including Kobe Bryant. Some of the players were working out with ex-Laker Mike Penberthy, and even Derek Fisher showed up to get in a light workout. There hasn’t been any information as to what the workouts consisted of, or whether or not Bryant engaged in any physical activity, but it’s good to see that the team is starting to get back together. The team begins training camp on September 28.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: On March 18 of last season, Darius Morris didn’t get into the game until the last three minutes of the Los Angeles Lakers’ blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns. Coach Mike D’Antoni stuck to a seven-man rotation on the second night of a back-to-back, and Morris didn’t figure into his plans. Two days before that, Andrew Goudelock was playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and picking apart the Lakers’ D-League affiliate, the L.A. D-Fenders, with 33 points and 12 assists in a 15-point win. Five weeks later, Morris and Goudelock made up the Lakers’ starting backcourt for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs. They put up an admirable effort — Goudelock finished with 20 points and three steals, Morris had 24 points and six assists — but the Spurs still embarrassed the Lakers, winning by 31 points on the Lakers’ home floor.

From Eric Pincus, LA Times: Former Lakers guard Shannon Brown and his wife, singer Monica, have welcomed their first child together. Daughter Laiyah Brown was born on Sept 3. Brown, currently with the Phoenix Suns, spent nearly three years with the Lakers after a midseason trade from the Charlotte Bobcats in 2009.  The athletic guard won two titles with the team in 2009 and 2010. His wife won the 1999 Grammy for best performance by a duo or group with vocals for the song “The Boy is Mine,” a collaboration with Brandy Norwood. The couple wed in November 2010. Monica also has two children with rapper Rodney “Rocko” Hill, Jr. — Rodney III (born 2005) and Romelo (born 2008). Vanessa Bryant, wife of Lakers’ all-star guard Kobe Bryant, sent out a message on Instagram a few days after the birth.

From Jacob Rude, Lake Show Life: The signing of Nick Young by the Lakers this summer was quizzical to say the least. With needs far more obvious and glaring elsewhere, most notably at small forward, Young filled none of those needs. Last season, Young spent just 3% of the total 76ers minutes at small forward. Despite spending more time at the small forward position in past seasons, it’s not his natural position. With Kobe Bryant, Jodie Meeks, Steve Blake, and Steve Nash already at the guards positions, bringing in Young seemed to make little sense.