Reports: Lakers to trade for Michael Beasley

No official confirmation yet, but reports out of Portland and Minneapolis indicate the Lakers, Trail Blazers and Timberwolves are close to completing a trade. The Lakers could get small forward Michael Beasley from Minnesota. Portland would get guard Steve Blake from the Lakers and Minnesota would get guard Jamal Crawford from Portland. Not sure how that address the Lakers’ point guard situation unless they turn around and send a draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers to acquire Ramon Sessions.

UPDATE: Lakers coach Mike Brown said he had no orders to keep Blake out of Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Hornets, which is what often happens while a trade is being completed. Crawford reportedly was in the Trail Blazers’ lineup for their game at New York. Blake declined to address any questions before the game, saying he was simply getting dressed and preparing to play.

“This is the first time I’ve heard his name today,” Brown said when asked before Wednesday’s game about the rumors that the Lakers were on the verge of acquiring Beasley. “I have not talked to Mitch at all. I’m not focused on any of the trade rumors.”

Brown referred to Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers’ general manager.

Here’s what Beasley told a Twin-Cities reporter after the T-Wolves practice Wednesday in Phoenix: “I’m just a pawn in this game. L.A., Boston, New Jersey, Orlando, anywhere … I mean, if they decide to move me, then I’ve got to go. I’m not saying I want to, but it’s something I have no control over.”

Pau Gasol finds relief from uncertainty far from the court

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

Is he going to Houston? Is he going to Orlando? Is he going to Chicago?

Or is he staying in Los Angeles?

Pau Gasol went to the one place he knew he could forget about his own worries and think about somebody else’s troubles for a change. After the Lakers arrived Monday in Memphis, he went to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital to visit some sick kids.

Coach Mike Brown tagged along with the Lakers’ power forward.

“You can’t really get away from it too much,” Gasol said Tuesday of the many trade rumors swirling around him with the deadline approaching Thursday at noon (PDT). “This year has been pretty intense as far as the uncertainty.

“My situation and how it’s going to end up and play out, I really don’t know. But I still come in and love what I do. I love being here (playing with the Lakers) and I’ll continue to do that for as long as I can.”

Gasol began visiting St. Jude’s during his rookie season with Memphis and his mother and father, both in the medical profession at home in their native Spain, came to work at the hospital. Marc Gasol of the Grizzlies, Pau’s brother, has joined them.

Brown said he was only too happy to go along for a visit. He called meeting the children a “humbling experience.” He also marveled at Gasol’s ability to block out his concerns about a possible trade, particularly with the deadline so close.

“He’s been impressive on the floor,” Brown said of Gasol. “He’s been impressive off the floor. You just appreciate it when you have guys like that. There’s not a single thing I could say that is negative or anything like that when it comes to Pau.”

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Mike Brown clarifies Lakers’ meeting Thursday, says it was just a film session

Coach Mike Brown tried to clarify what happened during a film session Thursday, when he and the assistants spoke up as well as Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol one day before the Lakers ended a two-game losing streak. Brown said he wouldn’t call it a clearing-the-air session, and it wasn’t the first time he’s asked others to speak.

“I talked before the film session about basketball,” Brown said after Saturday’s practice in El Segundo. “I talked during the film session. Then I talked after. I utilized my assistants a lot because I don’t like the players hearing my voice a lot. I talked a lot.

“I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to have someone else talk.’ After two losses like that (Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons and Wednesday against the Washington Wizards, two lowly teams,) everybody’s feeling kind of down.

“So, I wanted to hear other guys’ voices.”

Assistant John Kuester and the rest of the staff spoke up briefly. Then it was time for Bryant, Fisher and Gasol to add their two cents, which they did.

Said Brown: “I’ve done that before. I don’t know why it didn’t get reported then, but it didn’t. I don’t even remember what was said. I was just trying to get guys to talk.”

Brown discounted the film session as the reason the Lakers ended their two-game winning streak with a victory Friday over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Has the Lakers’ offense stalled out?

A sneak-peek at tomorrow’s story today …

In the old triangle offense overseen by Phil Jackson, the players on the floor had to move themselves and the ball in order to make it click to the coach’s lofty standards. It was easy to spot when it wasn’t working right.

In the Lakers’ new low-post offense devised and implemented by Mike Brown, the players must move their bodies and the ball in order to make it work to his satisfaction. So far this season, it’s also been obvious when it’s not working.

Old or new, either way, when the offense stalls so do the Lakers.

At the moment, after consecutive losses to lowly teams on their three-game trip, there’s no question but that the Lakers have come to a screeching halt. It’s clear they have embraced some but certainly not all of Brown’s teachings.

It happened now and then when Jackson coached the Lakers, too, when they stopped running the offense and simply dropped the ball into Kobe Bryant’s hands and stood back and watched the superstar guard try to work his magic.

Sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn’t.

Brown and Bryant each sounded frustrated after the Lakers went off the rails for the second night in a row, losing Wednesday to the Washington Wizards only 24 hours after falling in overtime to the Detroit Pistons.

“Offensively, we’ve got to figure out how to play the game the right way,” Brown said. “We did play the game the right way in the first half (during Wednesday’s loss to the Wizards), but in the second half, we just lost it. … The ball stopped moving.”

Brown went on to criticize Bryant’s shot selection, especially in the second half when he went 3 for 18 en route to 30 points on 9-for-31 shooting. Bryant’s response when advised of Brown’s comments was short and to the point.

“OK,” he said after taking a few seconds to gather his thoughts.

Or thought, as the case seemed to be.

With trade deadline a week away, Pau Gasol feeling at ease

Tomorrow’s story today …

Pau Gasol hasn’t been calling his agent by the hour.

He hasn’t been crossing off the days on a calendar in anticipation.

He hasn’t been chewing his fingernails nervously.

The trade deadline is one week from Thursday, and Gasol has been calm, cool and collected ever since Kobe Bryant called on team management to clarify the 7-footer’s status with the team and general manager Mitch Kupchak then dropped Gasol a dime.

“I don’t know what the state the moves and intentions are right now,” Gasol said the other day when asked about his phone conversation with Kupchak. “I have an understanding where things are, when he stands and where I stand.

“(Kupchak) told me just play the way you play. Keep playing hard and keep playing well and then we’ll see. It was kind of calming to have that feedback. “

Kobe Bryant is Mike Brown’s pick for MVP

Tomorrow’s story today …

Mike Brown doesn’t have a vote, but he offered a ringing endorsement for Kobe Bryant as the league’s MVP. The Lakers’ coach spoke at length about Bryant’s qualifications Tuesday at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

“Yes, he definitely should be involved in the MVP talks,” Brown said. “I think it’s hilarious that he’s not. … Everybody is talking about how he’s 85 years old or whatever they’re saying. And he’s leading the league in scoring.

“He’s efficient. He’s got his team in a good position. I truly believe this team, especially with a guy like that, can be dangerous come playoff time. There’s no doubt in my mind that Kobe Bryant should be mentioned in the MVP talk. I’m baffled.”

Bryant went into Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Pistons averaging a league-leading 28.9 points on 44.4 percent shooting in 38 minutes despite playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist and then a broken nose, a concussion and associated neck pain.

Right knee and left ankle injuries left him earthbound for most of the last two seasons, so he traveled to Germany last summer to have a procedure done that has worked wonders to restore the explosiveness in his legs.

Bryant, 33, doesn’t jump quite like he did when he was 23, but he has regained some quickness and lift. He looked especially sharp during the Lakers’ three-game homestand after the All-Star Break, averaging 34 points on 54.3 percent shooting.

Reporters who cover the NBA vote on awards such as MVP near the end of the season.

Is the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant really unrivaled?

A sneak-peek at tomorrow’s story today …

Kobe Bryant simply couldn’t say which player he considered to be his biggest individual rival. Is it Dwyane Wade? No, he’s too young. LeBron James? No, he hasn’t won a championship yet. Tim Duncan? No, that’s a grudge match for someone else.

Bryant judges everything by championship rings, and by his reckoning there’s no one in his league at the moment. Bryant has won five titles with the Lakers, and he’s trying for a sixth to match the number Michael Jordan won with the Chicago Bulls.

So, when Bryant and the Lakers play host to Wade, James and the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon, it looms as just another game Bryant and the Lakers would like to win in order to improve their record and continue their climb in the standings.

“It will be a good measuring stick for us, to see how much we’ve grown,” Bryant said after scoring 38 points in the Lakers’ victory Friday over the Sacramento Kings, his second game since suffering a broken nose, a concussion and a sore neck.

“The big test is (today). It will be interesting to see how we respond.”

Bryant sat out of Saturday’s practice in order to have his sore neck treated and he wasn’t available for further comment. He is expected to play in Sunday’s game against Miami and probably will wear his protective mask for a third straight game.

Lakers looking ahead to Heat after beating Kings

Here’s a sneak-peek at tomorrow’s game story …

“Now, yeah, we can talk about Miami,” coach Mike Brown said. laughing after the Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. Brown had refused to talk about the Heat until after the Lakers’ 115-107 victory over the Kings.

“My confidence level has gone up with this team,” Brown said in an impromptu state of the Lakers address late Friday night. “Maybe three or four weeks ago, I started to let go of the reigns a little bit because I felt we were getting it.

“I still feel we have room to grow, which is the exciting part.”

Any game against Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and the Heat is meaningful for the Lakers. This one took on added significance after Wade mugged Kobe Bryant on a drive to the basket during the All-Star Game, causing some serious damage to his noggin.

Wade apologized and Bryant accepted, but the story hasn’t died on either coast.

Talk of revenge fell on deaf ears in the Lakers’ locker room, however.

“We’ll do what we need to do to get a win,” Derek Fisher said after he had six points and a team-leading seven assists against the Kings. “That’s always the sweetest revenge. … For us, it’s a big game because of where we are as a team right now.

“It’s not so much about Miami and the anticipation of the game.”

Bryant downplayed the revenge factor, but called it “an important game.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum feeling fine

Shooting guard Kobe Bryant didn’t practice with his teammates Thursday, but he is expected to play in Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings despite suffering a broken nose, a concussion and whiplash-like neck pain in the All-Star Game on Sunday. He is expected to wear a clear protective mask to shield his nose for the time being.

Center Andrew Bynum reported no pain or swelling in his right knee after undergoing an injection Friday, playing only six minutes in his first All-Star Game on Sunday and going through only a limited workout with the Lakers on Tuesday. He said after Wednesday’s victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves is knee “feels really, really good right now.”