Kevin Durant said Lakers are “couple years away from where I wanted to be”

LAS VEGAS — The Lakers chased another star. Once again, that star ran away.

This time, the reasons had nothing to do with personality conflicts with teammates, salary or a poor sales pitch in its meeting. Kevin Durant did not grant the Lakers a meeting at all namely because he figured it would be a waste of time.

“Nothing against the Lakers, but I already had my mind set on who I wanted to talk to,” Durant said following practice with the U.S. Olympic team on Monday at UNLV. “I really respect their team. I just thought they were a couple years away from where I wanted to be.”
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Lakers’ Anthony Brown leaves Summer League frustrated with his shooting

Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown expressed frustration with his poor shooting marks in Summer League. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown expressed frustration with his poor shooting marks in Summer League. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS — The positive energy emerged in numerous ways for a Lakers organization that struggled finding any of that in recent years.

D’Angelo Russell looked invigorated under a more aggressive game and a more nurturing coaching staff. Until he sat to treat a sprained right hand, Larry Nance Jr. seemed unstoppable with his countless dunks and hustle plays. Ivica Zubac became an instant fan favorite for his pure enthusiasm, his constant blocks and his commanding post presence. Brandon Ingram appeared determined both to show his potential and fight through his initial shooting struggles.

For all the warm feelings the Lakers’ young core generated through Summer League, one player from that group walked away frustrated with how things turned out.

“I definitely was not happy with my offense all week,” said Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown.
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Lakers’ Ivica Zubac exceeds expectations in Summer League

Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac, right, averaged 10.6. points on 64.7 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds during summer-league play. Robert Casillas / Staff Photographer

Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac, right, averaged 10.6. points on 64.7 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds during summer-league play. Robert Casillas / Staff Photographer

LAS VEGAS — The viewing party started at 4:30 a.m., an ungodly hour usually only reserved for extended stays here at the casinos and posh nightclubs. For Ivica Zubac’s friends and family members in his native Croatia, however, that marked the time his close ones would watch the Lakers’ 19-year-old rookie center.

There, Zubac provided the same kind of excitement generated when a gambler throws all of his chips in on the correct number at the roulette table. Zubac sparked several cheers from the partisan Lakers crowd for his timely blocks, promising post presence and infectious enthusiasm. He earned new nicknames, ranging from “ZUU,” “Big Z” or “ZU-BLOCK.” And after Zubac averaged 10.6 points on 64.7 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds during summer-league play, the Lakers believe they found something more than what a No. 32 draft pick can usually offer.

“In two or three years, I can’t see why he can’t be like Marc Gasol,” Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown said. “Seriously. He’s talented.”

Bold words considering Gasol morphed from a burly Spaniard into one of the NBA’s most dominant centers. Gasol has made two All-Star appearances (2012, 2015) and a won Defensive Player of the Year award (2015). At this stage of his early career, Zubac has actually developed quicker than Gasol. After all, the Lakers did not blink whatsover in trading his rights after selecting him 48th overall in the 2007 NBA draft.

Not only did that move represent part of the deal to Memphis that secured his brother, Pau, and two subsequent NBA championships. The Lakers considered Marc Gasol a long-term project. As for Zubac, he showed it would not take long to show off his array of skills.

“I didn’t know I would play like this,” Zubac said. “I knew I would let everybody see what I have and prove myself why they picked me. I didn’t know I would play like this.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram eager to build off Summer League growth onto U.S. Select team

Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram grabs a rebound over the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram grabs a rebound over the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — Everywhere Brandon Ingram turned, he could have easily noticed the finality approaching.

The passionate Lakers crowd that dominated these Summer League games appeared smaller. After exerting his scoring superiority, Lakers second-year guard D’Angelo Russell dressed in street clothes and sat on the bench. And no matter the outcome, the Lakers would no longer play any more games here.

Yet, the Lakers’ 92-88 loss to the Utah Jazz in their consolation game on Friday at Thomas & Mack Center showed how Ingram’s work just started.

Without Russell’s playmaking, Ingram assumed a larger offensive role. So Lakers summer league coach Theo Robertson drew up plays that ensured Ingram would receive more looks in the post and along the wing. After averaging only five points per game on 31.6 percent shooting in the first four games, Ingram responded with 22 points on a 9-of-13 clip.

“I felt comfortable,” Ingram said. “I got off to a slow start. It kind of gave me motivation to try to push the team and get buckets and get it on the defensive end.”

Ingram also has another source of motivation that will keep him busy while most of his summer-league teammates will enjoy some rest. Starting on Monday, Ingram, Russell and Lakers third-year forward Julius Randle will begin training with the U.S. Men’s Select team at UNLV. Then, that team will practice against the U.S. Men’s Olympic team.

Robertson rattled off his hopes how Ingram learns as much as he can about those stars’ work ethic, professionalism and endless nuances that lifted them to stardom. Ingram’s bucket list seems even more detailed.

“To learn from the top players in this league,” Ingram said. “I think that’s very important for me coming into this league and trying to adjust to the physicality and pace of this game and see how they score so easily and on the defensive end how they get after it.”
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Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. listed as day-to-day with sprained right wrist

Lakers forward Larry Nance is sidelined for XX because of a broken right hand. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Lakers forward Larry Nance is sidelined for XX because of a broken right hand. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — The pain seemed immediately evident as Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. landed on the court with a loud thud. The ominous signs continued when Nance needed ice to treat a right wrist he believed was broken.

Nance’s fears, however, did not turn into a nightmare. An MRI taken on Friday showed that Nance has a sprained right wrist without any fracture or ligament damage. Nance will not play in the Lakers’ summer-league finale against the Utah Jazz on Friday at Thomas & Mack Center. But with the Lakers listing Nance as day-to-day, it appears likely he will report to training camp in late September fully healthy.

Nance took a hard fall in the waning seconds of the Lakers’ loss to Cleveland on Thursday. Nance then had x-rays that indicated a probable fracture. But Nance traveled to Los Angeles to visit Lakers physician Dr. Steve Lombardo and hand specialist Dr. Steve Shin of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic on Friday for further clarity.
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Kobe Bryant: “I’m far from done”

There will never mark a time where Kobe Bryant will ever play in an NBA game again. So those five NBA championship runs and endless clutch performances will represent nearly all of what Bryant accomplished in his 20-year NBA career. So will his endless ability to overcome injuries.

As Bryant accepted the ESPY Icon award on Wednesday at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, the Lakers’ former star made it clear, however, he has yet to write the final word on his legacy.

“I’m far from done,” Bryant said. “My next dream is to be honored one day for inspiring the next generation of athletes, to have a dream, sacrifice for it and never ever rest in the middle.”
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USA Basketball deferring to Lakers on possible scheduling overlap

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)

LAS VEGAS — There marks a chance the Lakers’ summer league schedule could overlap with the practice schedule for the U.S. Men’s Olympic team in Las Vegas.

Should the Lakers advance to the Summer League Final, that game would take place on July 18 at Thomas & Mack Center, the same day Team USA begins practice at UNLV. Russell, Julius

Randle and Brandon Ingram are playing for the U.S. Men’s select team.

“We want them to finish what they need to do with their team,” said USA basketball spokesman Craig Miller. “There’s no issue.”

Neither Mermuys nor Russell were initially aware of the arrangement. It appeared likely, however, Russell and Ingram will play in all the Lakers’ summer-league games. Randle is not playing in Summer League since he is a third-year player.

RELATED:

Lakers encouraging Ivica Zubac to extend his range

Lakers, D’Angelo Russell hope for better balance between scoring, playmaking

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 encouraging Ivica Zubac to extend his range

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Zubac gets a laugh from media. Photo By  Robert Casillas / SCNG

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Zubac gets a laugh from media.
Photo By Robert Casillas / SCNG

LAS VEGAS – The attempt once earned Andrew Bynum a quick trip to the bench. The concept became a disturbing trend to former Lakers coach Byron Scott.

After serving as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors as they perfected the use of the 3-point shot in the past two years, Lakers coach Luke Walton plans to maximize that philosophy with a younger and more unproven roster. So much that the Lakers have encouraged rookie center Ivica Zubac to extend his range.

“Once they prove it to Coach Walton, he’ll let them shoot them,” Lakers summer league coach Jesse Mermuys said. “Obviously he has to prove that. But that’s where the game is going. If you’re not allowing your guys to do that, then you’re behind the times. We have to encourage all that. If they prove it and make it, you have to let them shoot it.”

Zubac has not taken any 3-pointers yet through three summer league games. Yet, he has averaged nine points on a 64.3 percent clip based off a mix of post-ups and jumpers.

His infectious enthusiasm has gone beyond playing for his childhood team. He shared, “I really love the system” after the 19-year-old Bosnian native felt constricted when he played in Croatia.

“I was in the system where coach tells who’s going to shoot now and he calls the plays. Players don’t have freedom. Here, you have freedom and you can show what you have,” Zubac said. “To have it for this first time is so great. I can show what I can do.”

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Lakers praise Brandon Ingram for not shying away from contact

Los Angeles Lakers' Brandon Ingram drives around New Orleans' David Lighty Jr. during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram drives around New Orleans’ David Lighty Jr. during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — As he moves all over the court, Brandon Ingram feels an overwhelming sensation that does not involve nerves, fatigue or information overload.

Instead, it all points to the Lakers’ No. 2 draft pick suddenly becoming bait for his opponents to bite.

“With my size and my frame,” Ingram said, “they try to test me.”

Ingram stands at 6-foot-9 and is listed at 190 pounds. He has said he actually logs at 195 pounds after previously weighing 169 pounds during his freshman season at Duke. There might be a discrepancy on just how skinny Ingram is. But no discrepancy has emerged on what has become a priority on Ingram’s scouting report.

The Lakers may have imposed their will with 78-65 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday at Thomas & Mack Center. Ingram, however, encountered suffocating defenses that the Lakers attributed to him scoring only seven points on 0-of-5 shooting.

After posting 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the Lakers’ summer league opener against New Orleans, Ingram followed up with a seven-point effort on a 3-of-12 clip against Philadelphia.

Yet, the Lakers have seen something that a box score cannot document.

“As skinny as he is, he’s not shying away from that contact and that abuse,” Lakers summer league coach Jesse Mermuys said. “He’s trying to go get it. That’s a really good sign for him.”

It also has become a good sign that explains why neither the Lakers nor Ingram seem too concerned with his shooting inconsistency.

“When guys get physical, I think it’s important to hit them first before they hit you,” Ingram said. “So just trying to be aggressive and try to make plays for my other teammates.”
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Ivica Zubac shows sense of humor over Jerami Grant dunking on him

LAS VEGAS — The crowd went abuzz over Ivica Zubac, and this time the roars had nothing to do with his blocks or his infectious energy. Instead, the Lakers’ rookie center experienced his first rude awakening in the NBA after Bosian-born 19-year-old played overseas in Croatia.

Philadelphia forward Jerami Grant drove baseline and leaped over the 7-foot-1, 240-pound center in the Lakers’ eventual 70-69 victory over the Sixers on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center. The act did not just put Zubac on his first poster. Grant also made the incident extra humiliating after curling his right leg over Zubac’s head to avoid any contact.

“We don’t have that in Europe. I thought he was going to make a pump fake,” Zubac said. “I didn’t jump. Then he jumped on me.”

A reporter then informed Zubac that his Wikipedia entry indicated that he “died” from the experience.

“I did a little bit,” Zubac said.
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