Luke Walton makes more tweaks to coaching staff

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

The changes to the Lakers’ coaching staff has not just involved Luke Walton replacing Byron Scott.

Walton has also mostly replaced Scott’s staff with his own assistants. The Lakers announced on Friday that Walton will have Brian Keefe, Jud Buechler, and Theo Robertson as player development coaches. Casey Owens will be the Lakers’ assistant coach and advance professional scout after serving as the head coach for the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ Development League affiliate. The Lakers also promoted Will Scott as the team’s video coordinator after previously serving as an assistant coach/video coordinator for the D-Fenders (2015-16) and video coordinator for the WNBA’s Sparks (2014, 2015).

The Lakers had already named Brian Shaw as associate head coach, as well as Jesse Mermuys and Mark Madsen as assistant coaches.

Buechler played 12 seasons in the NBA, while winning three championships with the Chicago Bulls. Keefe worked as an assistant the past two seasons with the New York Knicks. And Robertson worked the past two seasons with the Golden State Warriors on Steve Kerr’s coaching staff, first as a video intern and then as a video coordinator/player development coach.

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

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Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. raises more awareness about Crohn’s disease

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. visited with patients at Cedars-Sinai on Wednesday. Photo credit: Al Cuizon/Cedas-Sinai

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. visited with patients at Cedars-Sinai on Wednesday. Photo credit: Cedars-Sinai

Soon enough, the Lakers informal practice will likely lead to highlight reels. It could range anywhere from high-flying dunks, forceful blocks or hustle plays.

Those will likely come from one energetic force: Lakers second-year forward Larry Nance Jr.

“I’m going to be bouncing off the walls,” Nance said. “I’m serious.”

The reasons may not just stem from Nance wanting to build off his promising rookie season as the Lakers’ 27th overall pick. It might go beyond Nance’s excitement from training without any limitations after nursing a sprained right wrist in the Lakers’ Summer League finale.

Nance will also be less than a day removed from receiving an infusion of Remicade, which he has taken every 7 ½ weeks ever since he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 16. That treatment often lead to some early naps. But Nance also compared his later reaction to the medicine toward what the “Popeye” character felt after eating spinach.

“It’s not fair,” Nance said. “I feel like I have super human strength.”

That became the crux of Nance’s message when he spent Wednesday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. As he received an infusion, Nance made several visits with about 25 children that either had Crohn’s disease or another inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Later on, Nance joined some of those children at the hospital’s basketball court,while also signing autographs and posing for pictures.

“The biggest thing I say is you do have a disease, but it’s a disease you can make work around your schedule,” Nance said. “You can do it. I’m sitting proof that once you get it figured out, make your disease work around you.”
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Lakers in discussions for deal with Yi Jianlian

The Lakers are in discussions in negotiating a deal with Chinese star Yi Jianlian, according to a league source familiar with the situation. The source said the deal has not been finalized, though the current plan entails signing Yi to a one-year deal on a non-guaranteed contract worth the veteran’s minimum plus various incentives.

ESPN first reported about the Lakers’ interest in Yi.

The 28-year-old Yi played five years in the NBA, averaging 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds career average of 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in stops with the Milwaukee Bucks (2007-08), former New Jersey Nets (2008-10), Washington Wizards (2010-2011) and Dallas Mavericks (2011-12). The listed 7-foot, 250 pound forward also has shot 33 percent from 3-point range. The Bucks selected Yi sixth overall in the 2007 Draft.

Yi is currently playing with the Chinese national team in the Rio Olympics and has spent the past four seasons with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association..

The Lakers have also yet to sign contracts for rookie forward Brandon Ingram and forward Tarik Black to maximize cap flexibility to accommodate any possible roster changes.

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

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Lakers to open 2016-17 season against Houston Rockets

New Orleans' Cheick Diallo, right, and Los Angeles Lakers' DAngelo Russell battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

New Orleans’ Cheick Diallo, right, and Los Angeles Lakers’ DAngelo Russell battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Both intrigue and uncertainty await on how long it will take for the Lakers’ young roster to develop. Or how long it will take for Luke Walton to master his position as the Lakers’ new head coach.

At least the Lakers have clarity on who they will play in the 2016-17 season. The Lakers learned a few things when the NBA announced its schedule for the 2016-17 campaign on Thursday, developments that could provide both rich storylines and landmarks during the team’s rebuilding process.

The Lakers will open a season without Kobe Bryant for the first time in 20 years with a home game against the Houston Rockets on Oct. 26 at Staples Center. After making two NBA Finals appearances and winning one NBA Championship the past two years with the Golden State Warriors, Walton will coach against his former team both at home (Nov. 4, Nov. 25) and away (Nov. 23, April 12). When the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers meet in Philadelphia (Dec. 16) and Los Angeles (March 12), inevitable comparisons will arise between this past year’s draft picks at No. 1 (Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons) and No. 2 (Lakers’ Brandon Ingram).

Even without Bryant or a fielding a playoff contending roster, the Lakers will play the Clippers on Christmas Day at Staples Center. Even if the Lakers have lost by an average of 20.45 points in 11 consecutive losses against their hometown rival, the Lakers-Clippers matchup should produce fireworks in designated games at home (Dec. 25, March 21) and on the road (Jan. 14, April 1).

The Lakers will likely experience other tests during other parts of the 2016-17 season.

The Lakers will experience extensive travel during a seven-game trip in 12 days in Sacramento (Dec. 12), Brooklyn (Dec. 14), Philadelphia (Dec. 16), Cleveland (Dec. 17), Charlotte (Dec. 20), Miami (Dec. 22) and Orlando (Dec. 23). Their annual Grammy trip will span eight days, including stops in Washington (Feb. 2), Boston (Feb. 3), New York (Feb. 6), Detroit (Feb. 8) and Milwaukee (Feb. 10). And the Lakers will also play 16 sets of back-to-back games, a slight decrease from the set of 18 back-to-back contests they played last season. Overall, the NBA reduced the number of back-to-back games to 16.3 per team, a 16 percent reduction from 19.3 per team in 2014-15 and an eight percent reduction from 17.8 per team last season.

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

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