Phil Jackson joins Twitter

Phil Jackson always had a way of reaching players.

The former Lakers coach just took another step.

“Please welcome Phil Jackson to twitter @PhilJackson11,” tweeted Jackson’s fiancée and Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss on Wednesday.

Jackson’s Twitter handle stands for the number of NBA championships he won, including five with the Lakers (2000-2002, 2009-2010). His avatar also features eleven rings, the photo for his upcoming book, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success” that will be released in late May.

Jackson describes himself in his Twitter bio as “Coach and Author.” Jackson is also the author of “Maverick,” “Sacred Hoops” and “The Last Season,” and he co-wrote “More Than a Game” with Charley Rosen.

Though he hasn’t tweeted yet, Jackson has collected more than 25,000 followers.

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Metta World Peace out at least six weeks after surgery on left knee

MINNEAPOLIS — Metta World Peace may just played his last game as a Laker.

An examination Wednesday left the Lakers estimating World Peace will remain sidelined for at least six weeks after having surgery tomorrow to repair the knee.

World Peace definitely won’t play in the rest of their 11 regular-season games over the next three weeks. It remains unclear if World Peace could even appear the postseason either, assuming the Lakers (36-35) make it. They only have a one-game lead over the Utah Jazz (35-36) for the eighth playoff spot.

According to the Lakers’ timetable, World Peace could return as early as May 9, which would either coincide with the tail end of the Western Conference semifinals or the beginning Western Conference Finals. Should the Lakers make the playoffs, they would likely receive an eighth seed and face a top Western Conference contender, such as the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City.

There’s more uncertainty surrounding World Peace’s offseason. His camp has admitted he will explore all options surrounding whether he will exercise his $7.7 million player option to return to the Lakers next season or opt out in hopes of a long-term deal. The Lakers could waive him using the amnesty provision should he exercise his option to stay in hopes of clearing up cap space. If World Peace opts out, the Lakers could decline to sign him to a longer deal for the same reasons.
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Metta World Peace’s agent says “all options are possible” for potential free agency

MINNEAPOLIS — Although he considered the conversation “a little premature,” Metta World Peace’s agent believes that “all options are possible” regarding the Lakers forward’s potential free agency this offseason.

“Everything should always be open,” Marc Cornstein, World Peace’s agent, said in a phone interview with this newspaper. “You always should explore all options if they’re available to you. I don’t want to close off any option.”

World Peace recently told NBA.com there is a possibility he would opt out of his $7.7 million player option in hopes of seeking a long-term extension. Either decision carries a certain amount of risk. Should World Peace exercise his player option, the Lakers could waive him using the one-time amnesty provision in hopes of clearing space within their current $100 million payroll. Should World Peace opt out, there’s a chance the Lakers wouldn’t resign him for the same reason.
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Mike D’Antoni not optimistic Metta World Peace returns before end of regular season

MINNEAPOLIS — Once the MRI diagnosis revealed Lakers forward Metta World Peace has a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee, a defeated feeling swept the Lakers.

It left Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni expressing little hope World Peace would return before the end of the regular season.

“I say I’m not optimistic only because it’s a couple weeks,” D’Antoni said. “If it’s bad enough to get it checked, we’ll see what it is once we get it checked, but it’ll be tough.”

The Lakers will find more answers later today once Lakers team doctor Steve Lombardo reexamines World Peace in Los Angeles. But World Peace’s injury sounds serious. The Lakers (36-35) have 11 games remaining, including tonights’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (25-44) at Target Center. The Lakers play their last game against the Houston Rockets on April 15. Considering the Lakers only have a one-game lead over the Utah Jazz (35-36) for the eighth playoff spot, it’s anybody’s guess whether the Lakers will play beyond that.

“It’s been a trying year for a lot of years and not just because of injuries,” D’Antoni said. “That’s what everybody has to go through. We can’t seem to get any traction. Besies that, nobody is feeling sorry for us. We have plenty to win anyway so let’s do what we’re supposed to do, play as hard as we can and see what happens. If we do that, we should be fine.”
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Metta World Peace has lateral meniscus tear in his left knee

MINNEAPOLIS — For all the unpredictability surrounding this season, there’s one area where the Lakers have remained uncomfortably consistent.

They continue to pile up significant injuries.

The latest victim: Lakers forward Metta World Peace had an MRI Tuesday in Minneapolis that showed a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee.

“First ever knee injury,” World Peace posted in a tweet that has since been deleted. “Recovery time hopefully is a week and a half.”

The Lakers aren’t as optimistic.

World Peace will travel back to Los Angeles where team doctor Steve Lombardo will evaluate him Wednesday. The Lakers will then provide a timetable for his absence, which will include the team’s game Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Former Lakers forward Matt Barnes had a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee in the 2010-11 season. The surgery and subsequent rehab sidelined him for 26 games.

“I can’t wait to get back,” World Peace tweeted. “But our team is so good. We will win and get into the playoffs.”

That might not happen.

The Lakers (36-35) only have a one-game lead over the Utah Jazz (35-36) for the eighth playoff spot with 11 games remaining.

World Peace’s left knee injury happened during an unspecified play in the second quarter of the Lakers’ 109-103 loss Monday to the Golden State Warriors. He missed the entire second half after Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said World Peace alerted him about the injury.

“He said he felt fluid in the back of his knee,” D’Antoni said.

Lakers backup shooting guard Jodie Meeks started in place of World Peace to begin the second half, though his absence could also create more minutes for Earl Clark. He lost his starting power forward spot to Pau Gasol for the past two games and has since played at backup small forward.

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Lakers say they remain patient with Pau Gasol’s conditioning

OAKLAND — For a painfully long six weeks, the Lakers missed Pau Gasol’s versatility, length and post presence.

But two games since his return from a torn plantar fascia in his right foot that sidelined him for 20 games, another issue has emerged.

How quickly can Gasol catch up on his conditioning without sacrificing both his body and the Lakers’ playoff fortunes?

“It’s going to take a couple of weeks for him to get ready,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Whether a couple weeks means only two or beyond, the Lakers have a month before the seasons ends. The Lakers (36-35) have a one-game lead over the Utah Jazz (35-36) for the eighth playoff spot with only 11 games remaining, making their postseason aspirations likely uncertain leading into the last week of the season.

Equally uncertain remains how many games Gasol believes it will take for his conditioning to round into form. Regardless, the Lakers need it. Gasol has scored a combined 11 points on 5 of 18 shooting and 16 rebounds in the Lakers’ past two losses.

“I wish it were that simple to say it takes five games or five practices,” Gasol said. “It depends. I’ll try to push myself to be better next game. Hopefully I’ll stay out there a little longer and be a bigger factor.”

So far, Gasol played only 20 minutes in the Lakers’ 103-100 loss Friday to the Washington Wizards and 23 minutes in the Lakers’ 109-103 loss Monday to the Golden State Warriors. Against Washington, he sat out of the final 8:50 of the game. Against Golden State, Gasol sat out fourth quarter entirely.

“Everything is relative and debatable,” Gasol said. “Right now, I’m trying to get better. I have to do better. Hopefully that will help make it easy on being out there.”

That, of course, determines on one thing.

“He has to get his legs back,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “He’s still out there with Bambi legs a little bit. After having missing so much time, it’s hard being able to get up and down the floor.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni openly lamented, “we’re back to being slow and we’re paying for it,” a clear reference to Gasol’s lack of speed. But D’Antoni suggested he will further tinker with his offense to ensure a slower pace instead of forcing players, such as Gasol, to pursue a speed they can’t reach.

“With Pau, we have to find a way to get him comfortable,” Lakers forward Antawn Jamison said. “It’s one thing to be out. But your timing is off and everything. With him, we just have to be positive with him, keep him upbeat and let him know he’s a part of this as well.”

It remains to be seen, though, whether the Lakers can absorb those growing pains. So far, they haven’t.

“The more I can be out there, the better for my conditioning,” Gasol said. “I can fight through fatigue and increase it every game.”

RELATED:

Lakers concede Dwight Howard needs to be featured more on offense

Mark Jackson calls the Warriors “a better team” than the Lakers

Dwight Howard suggests payback over elbow from Golden State’s David Lee

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Lakers concede Dwight Howard needs to be featured more on offense

OAKLAND — Superman just entered the Bizarro world.

Dwight Howard has shown visible frustration with a subdued demeanor, lowered voice and shortened answers. But he’s refused to gripe in recent weeks about the inconsistency the Lakers feature him on offense.

“I don’t even want to talk about it,” Howard said. “We have to figure out what we need to do to play. If you want to win games, you have to play the right way.”

Howard doesn’t have to speak up. Nor does he feel inclined to tote around a box score to teammates and reporters, like he did two months ago when the Lakers went away from his post presence. A certain prominent teammate will speak up for Howard.

“He’s playing phenomomal,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “We have to figure out a way to get him some more looks down low.”
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Mark Jackson calls the Warriors “a better team” than the Lakers

OAKLAND — Throughout this turbulent season, the Lakers have always maintained they could still make a championship run if only a few variables fall into place.

If only they can stay healthy. If only a talented-laden roster in Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace maximize their chemistry. If only they show
consistent effort.

But after the Lakers’ 109-103 loss Monday to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, Warriors coach Mark Jackson considered it all hogwash.

“I wanted my guys to understand that we are the better basketball team,” Jackson said. “We’ve played 72 games and the survey says that we are the better basketball team. That can’t be debated through 72 games.”
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Lakers Q&A: Chuck Person explains how Dwight Howard can incorporate mid-range game

OAKLAND — Below is a conversation I had with Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person on how Dwight Howard can incorporate mid-range skills into his game.

What do you think this will do for Dwight?

Person: “Better player means slowing down and takeing what the defense gives you. Although he’s big, strong and explosive, you don’t have to overpower everybody on every trip to get a shot. Sometimes you can catch it. If you’re open, shoot it. If not, take one dribble and jump over the guy. That’s still a good shot. Proving how good you are doesn’t mean proving how strong you are.”

How long has he been working on it?

Person: He’s always done it. It’s just a matter of redfining it and reassuring him that it’s okay to take a shot. I don’t think he’s been given that type of freedom before that Mike has given him.
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Antawn Jamison describes right wrist as a “little stiff,” vows he can still play

OAKLAND – Once the beep rang loudly, Lakers forward Antawn Jamison stood up and headed toward the trainer’s room. He had just spent time at his locker wearing attached to an electro-stim machine that sent currents into his strained right wrist.

Moments later, Jamison then found out the hard way how he’d fare playing with a wrist that experienced ligament damage only three days ago. In the Lakers’ 109-103 loss Monday to the Golden State Warriors, Jamison had only five points on 1 of 5 shooting. He missed his first three attempts.

“It’s a little stiff,” Jamison said. “The brace I had on earlier threw me off a little bit. I got hit on it and got a little stinger, but nothing to the point where any caution going down the road will affect me as far as being able to do the things I’ve been doing. I actually felt pretty good.”
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