LaVar, Lonzo and LaMelo Ball appear on WWE

It turns out Lonzo Ball’s debut at Staples Center did not entail wearing a purple and gold uniform.

The Lakers’ guard appeared with his outspoken father, LaVar, and his younger brother, LaMelo, on WWE’s “Monday Night Raw,” which took place at Staples Center. That outlet gave the LaVar Ball another outlet to do what he does best. He promoted the “Big Baller Brand.” He touted his son’s greatness. And he talked trash.

Just imagine when the real games start.


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” Lakers podcast on iTunes.

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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram named to NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team

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 award falls well short of what Lakers forward Brandon Ingram originally expected.

After the Lakers selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, he charted out a goal to win the league’s rookie of the year award. Instead, Ingram made the NBA’s All-Second team and received only 11 first-team votes.

Despite leading the NBA’s in minutes played per game (28.8), Ingram ranked seventh in his class in points (7.4), 21st in field-goal percentage (40.2) and seventh in rebounding (4.0). Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was picked 36th overall, ranked second in minutes played (26.4 per game) while leading rookies in assists per game (4.2) and steals (1.12) and finishing second in three-point field goal percentage (40.4) and free throw percentage (86.5).

Still, the Lakers had increasingly liked Ingram’s development enough to consider him untouchable in in trade discussions both leading up to the trade deadline and during the offseason. Despite his modest numbers, the Lakers have optimism with Ingram’s long-term trajectory with his positional versatility, shooting, defense, finishing, post-up game and ball handling. The Lakers have downplayed Ingram’s listed 6-foot-9, 190-pound frame, mindful of Ingram’s skillset and that his body will become stronger with age (20) as well as proper weight training and nutrition. The Lakers also have become encouraged with Ingram’s professionalism and work ethic, two traits that both resonated with teammates and Luke Walton’s coaching staff.

Ingram also progressed from a statistical standpoint en route toward becoming the fifth Laker rookie in franchise history to pick up second-team honors, including Nick Van Exel (1993-94), Kobe Bryant (1996-97), Travis Knight (1996-97) and D’Angelo Russell (2015-16).

After averaging 7.2 points on 36.9 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 39 games off the bench, Ingram posted 11.5 points on 42.3 percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists as a starter. Ingram showed more growth in March when he averaged 13.5 points on a 51.7 perecnt clip, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game in 11 starts. In April, Ingram also cracked double figures in 16 of the last 17 games he played.

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

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Why the Lakers-Lonzo Ball pairing seems like the perfect fit

With Magic Johnson at the helm of the Los Angeles organization, it should have come as no surprise that he’d want to draft the most dynamic point guard available.

Doing so fulfilled the lifelong wish of UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, who takes over a franchise ready to return to glory. In the latest “We Want Tacos’ Lakers podcast, Lakers beat writer Mark Medina of the Southern California News Group gives his thoughts on Ball’s ascension to the Lakers, with audio from Ball himself, Lakers head coach Luke Walton, general manager Rob Pelinka, and former Laker Robert Horry.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” Lakers podcast on iTunes.

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NBA Draft: Lakers tried to address shooting, defensive needs with No. 27, 30, 42 picks

EL SEGUNDO — The excitement swept over the Lakers as they selected a hometown point guard with their No. 2 pick that could transcend their franchise with his passing, leadership and marketing appeal. The Lakers did not just feel giddy over drafting UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, fulfilling the expectation that many Lakers fans, opposing team executives, and of course, Ball’s father, LaVar, predicted would happen.

The Lakers also believe they at least partially addressed their shooting and defensive needs with what they did throughout the rest of Thursday’s NBA Draft.

After trading center Timofey Mozgov and guard D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets for center Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick, the Lakers used that draft selection to secure Utah junior forward Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers then traded their No. 28th pick to the Utah Jazz for the 30th and 42nd selections. The Lakers then drafted Villanova senior guard/forward Josh Hart with the No. 30 pick, and then took Indiana sophomore center Thomas Bryant with the 42nd pick.

That left Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka “feeling grateful” for both acquiring additional picks and using those to fill various defensive and shooting needs. While the Lakers lost their two best shooters via trade (Russell) and opting out of a $5.7 million player option (Nick Young), the Lakers have also ranked last in several defensive categories in recent seasons.

“We’re thrilled with the players,” Pelinka said. “Big, big night for the Lakers. We’re just thrilled to be in this position.”
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Lakers so far holding firm on keeping No. 2 pick, Brandon Ingram

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, right, drives around Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis. Indiana won 115-108. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

The Lakers would like to have Paul George. George shares the same feelings.

But forming a partnership could become complicated. The Lakers have had preliminary discussions with the Indiana Pacers about acquiring the 27-year-old forward and four-time All-Star, according to league sources. But it currently appears challenging the Lakers will reach a deal before the NBA draft on Thursday.

Although neither the Lakers nor the Pacers have discussed specifics on a possible deal, the Lakers have gone into these conversations holding firm on two things. They want to keep their No. 2 pick and second-year forward Brandon Ingram, something they have reiterated in previous calls they have both made and fielded in the past month.

The Lakers have not entirely ruled out trading their No. 2 pick. Yet, the Lakers like this year’s draft class after having workouts with UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, Kansas guard/forward Josh Jackson and Washington guard Markelle Fultz. Though the Lakers have maintained they have kept an open mind about the NBA draft on Thursday, those in NBA circles strongly believe the Lakers will select Ball. He averaged 14.6 points on 55.1 percent shooting and a nation-leading 7.6 assists per game during his lone season with the Bruins.

As for Ingram, the Lakers have become most encouraged with his growth among the team’s young players. Although Ingram averaged 9.4 points on only 40.2 percent shooting and has a wiry frame, he has impressed the Lakers with his steady improvement with his positional versatility, defense, ball handling, aggressiveness and post play. The Lakers have also heard from draft prospects that they would like to play with him.

Though the Lakers want to hold on to their No. 2 pick and Ingram, it could become complicated trading either point guard D’Angelo Russell or forward Julius Randle. They share the same agent as George’s, Aaron Mintz, who is looking out for his clients’ best interests.

All of this leaves the Lakers in a precarious situation. They could wait for George to become an unrestricted free agent in the 2018 offseason in hopes of complementing him with a talented and, at that point, a further developed roster. Doing so leaves the Lakers vulnerable for another team to get involved. According to ESPN, the Rockets, Cavaliers, Clippers and Wizards are among the teams that have talked to the Pacers about George.

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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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How would De’Aaron Fox fit on the Lakers?

Most of the attention squarely centers on whether or not the Lakers will get involved in the Paul George sweepstakes. Or if they will follow through on the league-wide expectation to select UCLA guard Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick.

But what if the Lakers take a different path? What if they shore up their backcourt by drafting Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox instead?

For the latest “We Want Tacos” Lakers podcast, I spoke with someone who has plenty of perspective on this topic. Fletcher Page, the University of Kentucky basketball writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal, offered plenty of insight on Fox after covering him for his freshman season with the Wildcats. I touch base with Page on a variety of topics, including how he takes motivation from Ball and Washington guard Markelle Fultz projected ahead of him in NBA mock drafts, the comparisons to Washington guard John Wall, his progress as a shooter, his defensive skills and if there is a scenario he could wear a purple and gold uniform.


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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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Indiana’s Paul George reportedly plans to join the Lakers as a free agent in 2018

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, right, drives around Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis. Indiana won 115-108. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

Even after landing a coveted poker chip in the form of a No. 2 draft pick, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson did not allow that prize to add an extra tint to his purple-and-gold colored glasses regarding free agency.

“I don’t know if we’re going to be a major player this year,” Johnson said after the NBA draft lottery in May. “I’m really looking forward to next summer.”

This past weekend, the Lakers have a mix of optimism and uncertainty on those feelings. The Vertical reported that Indiana star forward Paul George informed the Pacers through his agent, Aaron Mintz, that he plans to opt out of his contract following the 2017-18. Instead, George has aspirations to join the Lakers, which also features some of Mintz’s other clients, including guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Julius Randle.

That explains Johnson’s optimism about next summer. The Lakers resisted trading away their young assets before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, mindful that acquiring George then could come at the expense of nurturing a growing roster around him. George, according to those familiar with his thinking, worried about the same thing.

Yet, George’s recent conversation with the Pacers could complicate his picture wearing a purple and gold uniform.

On one hand, the Lakers have not offered any indication they would make a deal for George for any of their young players since they would have enough cap space to sign him anyway in 2018. On the other hand, the Lakers’ patience may not become a virtue. The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly have had trade discussions with Indiana, hoping a one-year rental on a championship-caliber roster could entice him to stay longer.

George, who grew up in Palmdale and idolized former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, offers several qualities that would make his purple and gold uniform glitter.

The four-time NBA All-Star averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals for Indiana this season. He would mark the Lakers’ the Lakers’ first potential free-agent signing since striking out in recent years in retaining their own (Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol) and enticing star players (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe, Kevin Durant). And George has a close relationship with Lakers associate coach Brian Shaw after the pair worked together in Indiana (2011-13).

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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’ summer league schedule includes matchups against Clippers, Celtics

Despite all the unanswered questions the Lakers face with their No. 2 draft pick, free-agency sweepstakes and young roster, two things have remained certain.

The Lakers hate the Boston Celtics. The Lakers despise the Clippers, too. So it only seems fitting that the Lakers’ summer league schedule in Las Vegas opens with games against their loathsome opponents. First, the Lakers will play the Clippers on July 7 at the Thomas & Mack Center (5:30 pm PT, ESPN). Then, the Lakers will play the Celtics at Thomas & Mack Center on July 8, a matchup that will feature the No. 1 and No. 2 picks against each other.

That game could center on the Celtics’ presumed selection (Markelle Fultz) against the Lakers (Lonzo Ball). But with the Lakers holding other workouts for other candidates as well, that game could very well feature De’Aaron Fox or Josh Jackson.

The Lakers then resume play against the Sacramento Kings on July 10 (5:30 pm PT, NBA TV) at Thomas & Mack Center. Though each team will play a minimum of five games in summer league play, the Lakers’ remaining schedule hinges on the results of their first three games. The quarterfinals (July 15), semifinals (July 16) and championship game (July 16) will conclude the event.

The Lakers will feature a significant part of their young roster. In addition to the Lakers’ No. 2 and No. 28 picks making their debut, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and center Ivica Zubac plan to play for the second consecutive year. Lakers guard David Nwaba plans to join them too after signing with the team late in the 2016-17 season following a productive year with the D-Fenders, the team’s Development League affiliate.

All of the Lakers’ summer league games will be broadcast on both through Spectrum SportsNet, the team’s cable partners. Fans can buy tickets at NBATickets.com.

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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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Lonzo Ball pokes fun at his dad, LaVar, in Foot Locker commercial

For all those times LaVar Ball touted his son’s greatness, spoken on his behalf and heightened the public pressure around him, UCLA guard Lonzo Ball apparently cannot thank his father enough.

For Father’s Day, Ball expressed warm and fuzzy gratitude in a Foot Locker commercial on the various ways his father supported him.

“Of course there’s that big day when your dad berates your high school coach in front of an entire crowd for not getting you enough touches,” Ball said.

Ball then retraced his memory to “that special moment when your dad shoots you down and tells you where you’re going to go to college.” Ball still remembers vividly when his dad “copyrights your name to make it part of a family lifestyle brand.” And who could forget when LaVar “went on First Take and shouted back and forth with Stephen A. Smith about how you’re already better than the reigning MVP?”
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Mychal Thompson: Warriors will be greatest team in history if they go 16-0 in NBA playoffs

Klay Thompson looks at his father Mychal Thompson as he records a video during a ceremony retiring his jersey number at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. on Friday, January 13, 2017. Thompson helped the Eagles to a Division III State championship in 2008, was a first round draft pick of the Golden State Warriors in 2011 and helped them win a title in 2015. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The anxiousness has hardly subsided, even as Mychal Thompson is potentially one game away from seeing his son, Klay, win his second NBA championship in the past three seasons with the Golden State Warriors.

With the Warriors nursing a 3-0 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, Thompson has found little comfort with no NBA team in history ever overcoming such a deficit. As the Warriors enter a potential series-clinching Game 4 in Cleveland on Friday, Thompson still remains haunted with Golden State coughing up a 3-1 Finals series lead to the Cavaliers last year.

So, another Warriors victory no doubt would put Thompson at ease. It would also leave him convinced that Golden State would go down as the NBA’s best team because of a 16-0 record in the playoffs.

“That’s hard to get. It’s not guaranteed they will get to 16,” Thompson said. “But if they are able to pull that off…”

Thompson trailed off for a few moments, reflecting on all the NBA basketball he witnessed as a child, as as 13-year NBA player, as a member of the Showtime Lakers (1987-1991) and as a longtime radio color analyst for KSPN-710 AM.

“I’ve seen all the teams from Bill Russell’s teams to now,” Thompson said. “If they go 16-0, with the season they have and the personnel they have, to me, they would be the greatest team in history.”

In other words, Thompson will not represent one of many former NBA luminaries to boast superiority about their past teams over the current Warriors.

“I better say we’d win because Magic [Johnson] would have me exiled from L.A.,” Thompson said, laughing. “But this Warriors team is legit. They can beat anybody.”

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