Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) attempts a three point shot against Utah during the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game Sunday in Honolulu. AP Photo/Marco Garcia
HONOLULU — The smirk formed on Kobe Bryant’s face. He listened to a question that cut to the core on what could determine his success or failure in his 20th and perhaps final NBA season.
What expectations did the Lakers star have for himself after experiencing three season-ending injuries in consecutive seasons? Bryant chuckled at the thought. He then resorted to playful sarcasm, mindful of the diminished expectations surrounding his return.
“Nothing. Be average,” Bryant said sarcastically after the Lakers’ 90-71 preseason loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday at Stan Sheriff Center. “I’ll be average.”
HONOLULU – The Lakers have experienced injuries at an alarming rate, featuring five players that missed portions of practice because of various ailments.
But Lakers coach Byron Scott downplayed them all. D’Angelo Russell (bruised right foot), Metta World Peace (left calf strain) and Nick Young (back spasms) all practiced on Saturday, a day after all three of them missed most of Friday’s practice. Meanwhile, Lakers guard Marcelo Huertas will miss the preseason opener on Sunday against Utah because of a strained right hamstring, while forward Larry Nance Jr. is considered questionable because of back spasms.
HONOLULU — With three simple words, Kobe Bryant cleared up any confusion on whether the Lakers’ star would appear in the preseason opener on Sunday against the Utah Jazz here at Stan Sheriff Center.
“I’m definitely playing,” Bryant said after practicing in Saturday’s morning session that included a full-court scrimmage.
Moments earlier, Lakers coach Byron Scott suggested some uncertainty. Though Bryant will not practice in the Lakers’ evening session on Saturday, Scott still wanted to hold out on making anything official until he talked with Bryant on how his 37-year-old body felt after spending the past five days practicing.
But Bryant downplayed any concerns about his health after spending the last nine months rehabbing his surgically repaired right shoulder.
“I don’t have any. I feel great,” Bryant said. “I’m in great shape and I feel strong.” Continue reading →
The game just started, and Kobe Bryant wasted no time trying to intimidate his opponent.
“I’m ready to do some serious damage,” Bryant said.
But this would not happen on the basketball court where Bryant hopes to write his comeback after three-season ending injuries prevented him from doing that. Instead, Bryant offered that forewarning to U.S women’s soccer player Alex Morgan, the two playing FIFA 16 against each other for the video game’s commercial.
“When did you learn how to pass?” Morgan said at one point.
“Who said I ever learned?” Bryant responded in self-deprecating humor. “I only do it when necessary. It’s a necessary evil.”
The barbs continued as shown in the commercial above, the two stars determined the could win with both their words and actions.
HONOLULU — The Lakers ran up and down the court. They traded baskets. They fouled. They made defensive stops. But what became more captivating on the fourth day of the Lakers’ training camp on Friday at Stan Sheriff Center involved the players who were not standing on the court. Kobe Bryant, D’Angelo Russell and Metta World Peace each sat on chairs at the end of the baseline all for different reasons.
Bryant completed light shooting drills before sitting out the rest of the Lakers’ two hour practice to rest his 37-year-old body. Russell practiced for only 15 minutes before experiencing pain surrounding a blister on his bruised right foot. World Peace has missed the past two practices over what Lakers coach Byron Scott attributed to one of his calf muscles, though it wasn’t immediately clear which one. Then toward the end of the scrimmage, Lakers forward Nick Young suffered back spasms before limping to the sideline to receive treatment.
That might conjure up images of last seasons’s nightmare when the Lakers missed an NBA-record 324 games because of various elements. But Lakers coach Byron Scott downplayed those reminders, noting the mild nature of all the injuries.
“We have three or four guys on the shelf,” Scott said. “But you still have enough guys to do what you want to do on a day to day basis.”
Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson is now represented by Octagon sports. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)
The preparation Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson has taken goes beyond building off his promising rookie season. He also has joined Octagon’s sports agency, according to league sources, in hopes of maximizing his opportunities both on and off the court. Agents Jeff Austin and Chris Emens will represent Clarkson, league sources said.
Excel Sports Management had cut ties with Clarkson in August, while the Lakers’ guard felt frustrated with the agency’s communication and conflicting information about marketing opportunities. Clarkson had worked with agents Mike George and Jeff Schwartz.
Clarkson will make $845,059 in the 2015-16 season in what marks the league minimum for a second-year player. But Clarkson could then net a lucrative deal next summer as a restricted free agent should he build off his rookie season. Clarkson also recently starred in a commercial for Smart Bro (as seen below) and has attracted a large following in the Philippines. Clarkson’s mother, Annette Davis, is Filipino.
HONOLULU — The ball quickly went into Kobe Bryant’s hands, leading the Lakers’ star to perform something that represents any year of his storied NBA career.
Bryant caught the ball in the high post. He studied the defense. He posted up. Then, he turned around and attempted a step-through leaner. The shot went into the basket.
That represented the first possession reporters saw in about 20 minutes of the Lakers’ full-court scrimmage on Thursday here at Stan Sheriff Center. It foreshadowed how Bryant would play efficiently. He mostly scored out of the post. Then, Bryant often passed out of double teams and allowed D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson to assume ball handling duties.
“That’s his hot spots,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “If we can get him on the elbow, mid-wing and mid-post, he can be so effective for us as he was today. He was making shots, making passes and making plays for other guys.” Continue reading →
HONOLULU — The positive vibes stemmed from a warm climate, pleasant beaches and training camp optimism dissipated. Instead, the Lakers experienced a development that became a depressing theme throughout three trying seasons.
The Lakers absorbed their first injury of the 2015-16 season, with rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell missing the end of Thursday’s two hour morning session at Stan Sheriff Center because of a bone bruise in his right foot. Russell does not know how the injury happened, but he downplayed the severity of the injury. Russell also expressed optimism he will play in the evening scheduled later for Thursday.
“I feel fine, I’m doing the proper icing and taking care of it,” Russell said. “It’s just a little bruise. Continue reading →
Everyone moved out of Julius Randle’s way, as the Lakers forward sprinted his way up the court eager to show something he could not for eleven painful months.
The Lakers were nearing the end of a 30-minute full-court scrimmage on Wednesday here at Stan Sheriff Center when a fast-break opportunity emerged. Before the defense had any time to set up, Randle cut into the lane. His teammate, Lou Williams, made eye contact. Then, Williams lofted up an alley-oop that Randle threw down with force.
This only marked the second day of the Lakers’ training camp. But those days have meant everything to Randle, who played only 14 minutes in his NBA rookie year before fracturing his right tibia and sitting out the rest of the season. Even when he healed enough to play in Summer League two months ago, Randle averaged only 20.5 minutes per game and sat out in a back-to-back. This time, the Lakers have released Randle’s handcuffs.
“It’s been good,” Randle said, a smile forming as he said those words. “It’s been a year. It was amazing.”
It remains understandable Randle would feel that way. But it still sounded amusing. After all, Randle had just completed a 2 1/2 hour practice filled with conditioning drills, shooting exercises and scrimmaging. The Lakers would then have a two-hour evening session. Who would have thought Randle would relish such physical torture?
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant wears an ice pack on his shoulder during team practice at the Stan Sheriff Center, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in Honolulu. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HONOLULU — Just as nearly everyone here slept comfortably in their beds, Kobe Bryant woke up to prepare for something that has consumed him nearly his entire life.
The Lakers star trained.
He woke up at an ungodly hour for an individual workout to strengthen his body, most notably the surgically repaired right shoulder he has rehabbed in the past eight months. Bryant then arrived to practice early for an individual shooting workout to accelerate his rhythm. The Lakers’ star then participated in most of the Lakers’ 2 1/2 hour practice that started at 11 a.m, which consisted of full-court 5-on-0 and 5-on-5 drills.
“I felt pretty good,” Bryant said on Wednesday after the Lakers practiced here at Stan Sheriff Center. “I was moving well and could get the spots I wanted to and do what I wanted to on the floor.” Continue reading →