Lakers’ Luke Walton handling closeout time differently for Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell

Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14) drives to the basket against Sacramento Kings guard Arron Afflalo (40), during the 2nd quarter, at the Staples Center Los Angeles Calif., Tuesday, February ,14, 2017. ( Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG )

The Lakers have seen him both grow and shrink. But lately, Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram has mostly stayed on the court in crunch time so he can fully blossom.

The Lakers have seen him show both flashes of greatness and inconsistency. But lately, Lakers second-year guard D’Angelo Russell has mostly sat on the bench without an opportunity to provide a happy ending.

While Ingram and Russell might represent two key pieces of the Lakers’ young core, they also represent contrasting views on how Lakers coach Luke Walton wants to develop them.

In the Lakers’ 97-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday at Staples Center, Russell sat out the entire fourth quarter after logging only eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and committing more turnovers (five) than assists (one). In the past four games, Russell has not cracked the 30-minute threshold. And though Russell has felt more empowered with Walton’s free-flowing offense and a starting position that has never been yanked other than injuries, Russell has logged less playing time under Walton (26.4 minutes per game) than during his rookie season under former Lakers coach Byron Scott (28.2).

Russell said afterwards he has not talked with Walton about this reality.

“He pretty much goes with who’s really playing well at the time,” Russell said. “And that’s the best way you can go about it.”

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Lakers’ Luke Walton plans to keep same starting lineup at least before All-Star break

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton likes what he sees in t he 4th quarter. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 120-116 at Staples Center in. Los Angeles, CA 1/31/2017. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

Lately, Brandon Ingram has not had to worry exactly at what point he would enter the game. Lakers coach Luke Walton has started him for the past three games with a clear eye on accelerating Ingram’s development at a time when that has taken bigger priority than results.

But Ingram has had to worry about his own well-being. Walton said Ingram recently nursed a “big-time sickness” that affected his energy level in recent games. Walton said he first noticed on the morning of the Lakers’ loss last week in Detroit.

“He had to run off the court in shootaround,” Walton said. “Whatever was going on, was going on.”

Walton insisted that Ingram “feels much better.” But that captures why Walton has hesitated to make too many big picture evaluations on any positive and negative developments with his recent starting lineup switch. Walton plans to still start Ingram at small forward and Tarik Black at center when the Lakers (19-37) host the Sacramento Kings (23-32) on Tuesday at Staples Center and on Wednesday in Phoenix. The Lakers will then take off during NBA All-Star weekend in New Orleans before playing on Oct. 24 in Oklahoma City.

“Getting back from All-Star, we’ll stick with it and have a better idea of what we’re looking like,” Walton said. “Then we might need to try some different groups. But we’re taking it as it comes with that.”

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Magic Johnson wants Kobe Bryant involved with Lakers

The question seems as difficult to answer as it did in trying to stop of one of Magic Johnson’s no-look passes.

Will Johnson ultimately remain a Lakers advisor in matters pertaining to the franchise’s business and basketball operations? Or will the man that led the Lakers to five NBA championships on the court also be in charge of leading them from above?

Time will tell. But there does not seem to be any uncertainty on who Johnson would want along with him

“First call I make if I’m in charge? Kobe Bryant,” Johnson said on Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take.” “Because Kobe understands winning. He understands, also, these players. So I would call, ‘What role you want? f you’ve got a day, just give me that day. I’ll take that. Whatever time he has, I want him to come and be a part of it.”
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Luke Walton, Magic Johnson meeting not yet finalized

Lakers legend Magic Johnson plans to meet with Lakers coach Luke Walton soon. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

The circumstances have not allowed a certain development to happen as fast as Magic Johnson ran the fast break.

Though the Lakers named Magic Johnson last week as an advisor for both the team’s business and basketball operations, Lakers coach Luke Walton has yet to meet with him about his role for a few practical reasons. The Lakers had completed a five-game trip last week. The Lakers (19-37) have games this week against Sacramento (23-32) on Tuesday and on Wednesday in Phoenix before the team takes off during NBA All-Star weekend in New Orleans.

“When I get some free time, I would love and looking forward toward sitting down with Magic,” Walton said. “It’s going to happen. There’s just no time right now.”
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Magic Johnson estimates it will take “three to five years” for Lakers to rebuild

The Lakers’ legend self-admittedly lacked patience as he saw his beloved franchise shuffle through coaching changes and unproven rosters amid debilitating losses.

With Magic Johnson holding an advisory role for the Lakers in the past week, however, he predicted that more growing pains await.

“It’s going to take three to five years to get them back rolling again,” Johnson said in an interview on CBS This Morning that aired on Monday morning. “If we’re patient and we develop our own players, in today’s NBA it’s different than when I played. you have to develop your own players because free agent movement is not like it used to be. You have to make sure you hit a home run with the players you do draft and keep the players you have on your roster.”
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