Lakers waive Jabari Brown, Roscoe Smith

The Lakers made what mark their last round of roster cuts, waiving training camp invitees Jabari Brown and Roscoe Smith.

The Lakers currently have 15 players on their roster heading into their season opener on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. That marks the maximum number of players NBA teams can field during the regular season.

It remains to be seen if the Lakers will make any more cuts. Lakers guard Steve Nash remains on the roster because of a guaranteed $9.8 million contract despite the team sidelining him for the 2014-15 season because of persisting nerve irritation in his back. So the Lakers hoped to create a roster vacancy elsewhere since they will apply for the disabled players exception, which would allow them either to sign a free agent or trade for a player for $4.85 million.

Yet, the Lakers may not cut training camp invitee Wayne Ellington considering his current concussion would mean they would have to pay his full salary. Lakers veteran guard Ronnie Price seems assured of a roster spot to maximize the tema’s point guard depth, but he suffered a right knee injury in the Lakers’ preseason loss on Friday to Sacramento in Las Vegas.

Brown and Smith were both undrafted rookies that landed an invite to the training camp roster on September 23. Brown posted a total of five points, two rebounds and an assist in 22 minutes through four preseason games. Smith averaged 3.1 points on 45 percent shooting and 3.1 rebounds and appeared in seven of the Lakers’ eight exhibition games.

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Lakers offer sympathy for Steve Nash, while trying to move on

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Lakers’ 93-92 preseason loss to Kings ends with injuries to Ronnie Price, Wayne Ellington

LAS VEGAS — So many questions linger as the Lakers’ 93-92 loss to the Sacramento Kings at MGM Grand Arena officially ended the team’s exhibition season.

Will Kobe Bryant become an elite player again? Will Bryant have a reliable sidekick. Can the Lakers thrive on defense?

No one knows the full answer yet. But it already has become clear on one other issue. The Lakers continue to struggle to stay healthy.

Lakers point guard Ronnie Price suffered a sore right knee that limited him for only three minutes, a devastating blow considering the Lakers already lost Steve Nash for the season because of a recurring back injury. Meanwhile, Lakers guard Wayne Ellington suffered a concussion.

The Lakers will evaluate both Price and Ellington on Saturday, leaving the team unsure of its depth entering its season opener on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

“I don’t know what the status is going to be with Ronnie going into the season,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “He’s a tough kid though. If I had to bet money, he’ll be ready by Tuesday.”

The outlook on Ellington seems less optimistic simply because his evaluation will entail visiting neurologist Dr. Vern Williams. The NBA concussion policies require players to go through a series of exercises symptom free before being cleared to play. Those tests include ones on the stationary bike, light jogging, running, jumping and agility drills, team drills with limited contact and then full court contact drills.

“Wayne because of the protocol with the NBA, that’s probably going to be dicey,” Scott said.

It’s also dicey how the Lakers handle their 17-player roster. They can hold a maximum of 15 players for the 2014-15 season. The Lakers also want to keep a roster spot open to coincide with applying for the disabled player exception, which will allow the Lakers to sign a free agent or acquire a player through a trade that is worth $4.85 million, which is roughly half of Nash’s $9.8 million salary.

Price, Ellington, Roscoe Smith and Jabari Brown have non-guaranteed contracts. Price is expected to stay, especially because of Nash’s absence. But Ellington’s injury complicates issues considering the Lakers would owe him a full salary if he was cut while hurt.

Meanwhile, Lakers center Jordan Hill sat out for his consecutive game because of a neck strain, but he indicated he will play on opening night. The Lakers also have injuries to Nick Young (right thumb), Ryan Kelly (right hamstring) and Xavier Henry (back spasms, right knee).

Still, it’s clear what remains on Scott’s mind entering the 2014-15 campaign.

“Injuries,” Scott said. “That’s the main concern. We hope most of our guys are healthy by Tuesday.”

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Steve Nash injury: Kobe Bryant relates to Nash’s injury struggles, longevity

Steve Nash injury: Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak unsure about adding point guard

Lakers sympathetic for Steve Nash’s season-ending injury

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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Steve Nash injury: Kobe Bryant relates to Nash’s injury struggles, longevity

Los Angeles Lakers guards Kobe Bryant, left, and Steve Nash confer during a break in action in the fourth quarter of the Denver Nuggets' 126-114 victory over the Lakers in an NBA game in Denver on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. (David Zalubowski/AP File Photo)

Los Angeles Lakers guards Kobe Bryant, left, and Steve Nash confer during a break in action in the fourth quarter of the Denver Nuggets’ 126-114 victory over the Lakers in an NBA game in Denver on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. (David Zalubowski/AP File Photo)

LAS VEGAS — The partnership seemed unlikely given how they spent so many years competing against each other in heated playoff battles. But both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash rightfully gushed about the possibilities once they became teammates two years ago, knowing the NBA’s best scorer and passer of this past generation would give defenses fits every single night.

That dream scenario never happened, though. Nash played in only a combined 65 games in the past two years before the Lakers ruled him out for the 2014-15 season because of recurring nerve damage in his back. Meanwhile, Bryant tore his left Achilles tendon shortly before the 2013 playoffs, only to appear in six games the following season because of a left knee injury.

So even if Bryant reported Nash feeling in good spirits after the two touched base on Thursday night, how much can Bryant relate to any frustration Nash may currently experience? After all, both have earned universal praise regarding their methodical approach toward training, rehabbing and dieting.

“You can control what you can control, so he did everything possible to get back to playing at a high level so from that standpoint he should be able to sleep at night,” Bryant said. “I know I would. I could only think about that in my situation and I just tried to do everything possible to be ready, and it wasn’t in the cards, if I couldn’t get back to being at that level then you just have to accept it. But you have to know that when you put your head down at night that you did everything possible.”
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Steve Nash injury: Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak unsure about adding point guard

"The Lakers' Steve Nash does a behind the back pass after driving the key on the Wizards' Trevor Ariza, Friday, March 21, 2014, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)"

“The Lakers’ Steve Nash does a behind the back pass after driving the key on the Wizards’ Trevor Ariza, Friday, March 21, 2014, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)”

LAS VEGAS — Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak no longer has to handle the uncertainty on whether Steve Nash can either stay healthy or recover quickly enough to return to the court. But with the Lakers announcing that they have ruled Nash out for the 2014-15 season because of recurring back problems, how will they address their point guard vacancy?

It doesn’t appear they will settle this right away. Kupchak said he feels “okay” with the Lakers current crop of point guards, including veteran Ronnie Price, Jeremy Lina and rookie Jordan Clarkson. But the Lakers will apply for the disabled player exception, which will allow them to sign a free agent or trade for a player worth half of Nash’s salary ($4.85 million). The Lakers also plan to trim their 17-player roster to 14 by the season opener next Tuesday against Houston at Staples Center. Nash will still take up a roster spot because he is owed a guaranteed $9.8 million before his contract ends after this season. Meanwhile, Price suffered a sore right knee in the Lakers’ preseason game against the Sacramento Kings at MGM Grand Arena.

“Will we look to get another backcourt player?” Kupchak said. “I don’t know.”

Kupchak also sounded unsure on the likelihood that Nash would serve as a de facto assistant coach, a role that Lakers coach Byron Scott and players have endorsed because of his vast experience as a
two-time NBA MVP and third-place standing on the league’s all-time assists list.

“I think he needs to get away,” Kupchak said. “We talked about how welcome he’d be and how he wants to support his teammmates and how he’d like to come back. I’d like to see him out there working out there shooting. But I don’t see him as a shooting coach. He has so many things going on in his life. Maybe one day he would want to coach. Hes a pretty diverse business man. He has a lot of opportunities.”
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Lakers sympathetic for Steve Nash’s season-ending injury

"The Lakers' Steve Nash drives the baseline on the Wizards' Andre Miller, Friday, March 21, 2014, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)"

“The Lakers’ Steve Nash drives the baseline on the Wizards’ Andre Miller, Friday, March 21, 2014, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)”

LAS VEGAS — The Lakers prepared for their upcoming game the same way they have always done for most of them the past two seasons. They knew that Steve Nash would stay sidelined because of another injury.

But this time, the circumstances changed. The Lakers tried absorbing the unsettling reality that Nash would remain out for the entire 2014-15 season before it even began because of recurring nerve irritation in his back.

“We feel more for Steve than anybody because I saw how hard this kid worked out all summer long to get ready for the season,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “It hurts the team. He’s obviously the best point guard and one of the best that ever played the game. I know it hurts him. This is something he wants to do. He loves playing basketball.”

Scott has not spoken with Nash since the the Lakers announced the news on Thursday evening. He figured the 40-year-old point guard would “need some space” in digesting the latest string of injury news that has become constant in the past two seasons. Nash had stayed sidelined for the past week and a half because of worsening back issues, but Scott said deferred to Nash and the Lakers’ training staff on determining he could not play at all this season.

“I got a sense it would probably be like last year,” said Scott, mindful that Nash played only 15 games sprinkled throughout the 2013-14 campaign. “I got the sense this is probably something that will be ongoing and I have to figure out which games he can play and which games he can’t.”
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Steve Nash – Images from a Hall of Fame career

Lakers guard Steve Nash was officially ruled out for the 2014-15 season on Thursday after having recurring back problems. Staff photo: Keith Birmingham Pasadena Star-News

Lakers guard Steve Nash was officially ruled out for the 2014-15 season on Thursday after having recurring back problems. Staff photo: Keith Birmingham Pasadena Star-News

You read about Lakers guard Steve Nash being ruled out for the 2014-15 season because of recurring nerve damage in his back, likely marking the end of a Hall of Fame career that entails two NBA MVP’s and a third place standing on the league’s all-time assists list. You read about how the Lakers grew more concerned about Nash’s health and future after staying sidelined for the past week and a half. You read about how the Lakers and Nash felt cautiously optimistic about his health early in training camp.

But pictures always tell a 1,000 words. And in the case of LANG’s photo gallery of Nash, plenty of images tell various stories how he had still etched a Hall of Fame career before his endless health struggles the past three seasons with the Lakers.

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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’ Steve Nash ruled out for the season

File photo: Los Angeles Lakers' Steve Nash, right, passes off the ball as Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Pauldefends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

File photo: Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash, right, passes off the ball as Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Pauldefends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

Despite having a full offseason in which he trained without any limitations, Steve Nash’s health worsened enough that the Lakers have declared him out for the entire 2014-15 season.

Nash had stayed sidelined for the past week and a half because of a recurring nerve damage in his back that kept him out for all but 15 games last season. The 40-year-old point guard has become riddled with injuries ever since fracturing his left leg two years ago in only his second game with the Lakers. Meanwhile, the Lakers will have to stomach his $9.8 million salary in the final year of his guaranteed contract.

“Being on the court this season has been my top priority and it is disappointing to not be able to do that right now,” Nash said in a statement. “I work very hard to stay healthy and unfortunately my recent setback makes performing at full capacity difficult. I will continue to support my team during this period of rest, and will focus on my long-term health.”
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Lakers’ Ed Davis showing consistency on defense, finishing

The images replay over and over again. But like a summer blockbuster that relies heavily on special effects, the action never becomes too boring to watch.

Lakers backup center Ed Davis leaps through the lane with gravity-defying dunks and easy finishes at the basket. Davis also appears to jump off a trampoline when he swats away shots that his opponents throw at the basket. This has happened with so much frequency that Davis leads the Lakers both in field-goal percentage (71.4 percent) and ranks second in the NBA in blocked shots (2.3 per night).

Not a bad audition tape for Davis, who is competing for the backup center position against Robert Sacre. Not a bad message to show the Lakers that he is worthy of a role after signing this offseason to a two-year, $2 million deal. Not a bad effort in showing he could thrive after spending a five-year NBA career with Toronto and Memphis struggling to find a consistent role.

“I’m just playing hard every night,” Davis said. “The NBA is a long year with injuries and guys going down. With trades, you never know what’s going to happen. So you always just have to be ready. That’s what I do. I’m going to be ready every night, if I play 10 minutes or 20 minutes. I’m
going to be ready.”
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Lakers’ Julius Randle: “I want to be Kobe”

ONTARIO — A gravity-defying steal that stopped an alley oop lob. A coast-to-coast drive that brought nearly every Lakers fan to their feet, drew a foul and ended in two made free throws. A journey across the court that captures what Julius Randle hopes becomes a lasting impression in his Lakers’ rookie season and beyond.

Randle cemented his best game in training camp. He posted a team-leading 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and eight rebounds 24 minutes off the bench in the Lakers’ 94-86 victory Wednesday over the Portland Trail Blazers at Citizens Business Bank Arena by seemingly doing everything.

Randle canned mid-range jumpers with ease. He made defensive stops. Randle handled the ball coast-to-coast. He performed all of these tasks with both efficiency and ease, sparking one of the 7,174 fans in attendance to yell something that brought everything in perspective.

“He’s only 19 years old baby!” the fan yelled.

Here’s another thing that should leave the Lakers giddy, particularly Kobe Bryant as he sat out to rest him for the regular season beginning next week. Randle revealed he developed his ball handling that enabled him to drive coast-to-coast by emulating a certain Lakers star growing up and dismissing comparisons to a former adversary.

“People used to tell me I’m going to be the next Shaq,” said Randle, the 6-9, 250 pound forward growing in height and strength at an early age. “I said, ‘I don’t want to be the next Shaq. I want to be Kobe.’ I always dribbled the ball everywhere I went.”
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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant to sit out last two preseason games

ONTARIO — Those in the Inland Empire and in Las Vegas hoping to catch a glimpse of Kobe Bryant are out of luck.

Bryant will miss the Lakers’ last two preseason games, including tonight against Portland in Ontario and against Sacramento on Friday in Las Vegas.

The Lakers says the 36-year-old Bryant have not suffered any injuries. But he will rest so he can feel fully charged for when the regular season starts next Tuesday against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

Lakers coach Byron Scott had originally planned to increase Bryant’s workload leading into the 2014-15 regular season. But Bryant logged a preseason-high 33 minutes in the Lakers’ 114-108 preseason loss on Tuesday to the Phoenix Suns in Anaheim.

Bryant averaged 19 points on 38.4 percent shooting and four assists in 26.7 minutes per game through six exhibition contests.

Meanwhile, Lakers center Jordan Hill remains a game-time decision after suffering a cervical strain in the team’s preseason loss on Tuesday to Phoenix. Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson will make his first appearance after missing the past five contests because of a strained left calf muscle.


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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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