Byron Scott has high praise for Lakers lottery pick Julius Randle

Kentucky forward Julius Randle, right, poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Kentucky forward Julius Randle, right, poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

With Byron Scott now the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, the former member of the Showtime Lakers gets the chance to coach one of the best players in NBA history in Kobe Bryant.

But he also gets to coach on the most talented young prospects in the league in lottery pick  and power forward Julius Randle. At Scott’s introductory press conference on Tuesday, Scott was asked his thoughts on the promising Randle and gave a flattering review:

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New Lakers head coach Byron Scott thinks current roster can be competitive

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t exactly hit the home runs they were hoping for in free agency after going after superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and ultimately losing out to Cleveland and New York.

But the roster additions they were able to make, which include Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis, were enough to have new head coach Byron Scott excited. Continue reading

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Magic Johnson discusses how he would do if he played in today’s NBA

Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke at Cal State Long Beach's Carpenter Performing Arts Center on a range of topics including; his childhood, basketball career, business acumen and even touched on Clippers ownership.  At the beginning of the speech, Magic spanned the stage so that people could take "selfies" with him. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke at Cal State Long Beach’s Carpenter Performing Arts Center on a range of topics including; his childhood, basketball career, business acumen and even touched on Clippers ownership. At the beginning of the speech, Magic spanned the stage so that people could take “selfies” with him.
Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Magic Johnson got riled up by one student asking a question during his talk at Long Beach State University Monday evening. How does he think he would do if he played in the NBA today?

“If I played in this era, it would be over,” said Johnson. “See right now, there is no hand check. Back in my day, you could hand check. You could hard foul. They got private planes now. We had to take commercial and we were still winning 62 games. And all they do is shoot jumpers today too.”

“Don’t get me started, I’m sweating like I’m getting ready to play.”

While Johnson said he would thrive in today’s scoring friendly game, he offered up a couple players that could play in his NBA era. Those names included Lakers star Kobe Bryant and the Heat’s LeBron James.

“Could you imagine Michael Jordan with no hand checking? Larry Bird?” said Johnson.

At that point, Johnson went back on stage to demonstrate his rivalry with Bird and Jordan and their notorious trash talking. He showed the crowd how Bird would call his shots and ask why Johnson was bothering trying to stop his shot, moments before sinking the attempt. Or the time the Celtic great asked his peers during a three-point shooting contest who was coming in second because he was taking first.

“Larry Bird was unbelievable, up here with this,” said Johnson, pointing to his head. “That’s why Kobe is so dominate. He’s got game but his basketball IQ is off the charts.”

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Magic Johnson said buying Clippers would be personal battle due to Lakers allegiance

Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers great Magic Johnson spoke to students at Long Beach State University Monday evening, giving life and business advice to the sold out crowd, which was closed off to the public. And two students were able to ask a very candid question: Is Magic interested in buying the Clippers?

“I don’t know what me and my group are going to do,” said Johnson in response. “But I will say this, 20 people have already called me interested in partnering up with me, so money will not be an option.”

When the initial question was asked, many cheered. But there were some boos (presumably from the many Lakers fans in the crowd). Johnson also admitted it would be a “battle for him personally” to pursue the Clippers’ purchase given his allegiance to the Lakers.

“I really truly love the Lakers,” said Johnson. “I am a Laker. So that will be interesting.”

Johnson, who has admitted he would love to own an NBA franchise, has been rumored to be eying the Clippers, hoping to be add to his Southern California empire that includes the Dodgers and the L.A. Sparks. Johnson also said during the talk that he would love to bring the NFL back to L.A.

His interest comes in the wake of Donald Sterling’s lifetime ban from the NBA for his racist comments, which mentioned Johnson.

“It’s a sad day. Racism. Discrimination. It’s why we still have to go through that, ‘Here we are in 2014,” said Johnson. “While I was upset, I feel sorry for him, living in the past. It’s just uncalled for.”

The Lakers’ great reminded the audience that the Clippers are not actually for sale as of yet, with the NBA owners still needing to vote Sterling out. Johnson figured that sale would not happen for another eight months to a year.

“There is no way that man walks away without a battle,” said Johnson.

The notion of buying the Clippers came up earlier in the event, when a audience member shouted it out during a pause in questions. The room, and Johnson, burst into laughter. But there were still some boos.

“Don’t do it,” someone shouted.

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Magic Johnson reflects on final moment with late Lakers owner Jerry Buss

Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke at Cal State Long Beach Monday, May 05, 2014, Long Beach, CA.  Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke at Cal State Long Beach
Monday, May 05, 2014, Long Beach, CA.
Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Magic Johnson’s talk with Long Beach State University students at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center on Monday night was a night filled with laughs and that trademark Magic smile.

But there were also tear-jerking moments.

Johnson was asked in the early portion of the Q/A what marked his favorite moment with former Lakers owner Dr. Buss, who passed away last year in February. Johnson said there was too many to choose from, but ultimately decided on his final moment with Buss.

The former Lakers great told the crowd the story of when he went to visit Buss in the hospital, being told by Buss’ daughter, Jeanie, that he was not doing very well.

“I went into the hospital room and he just perked up. And we just started talking about the run that we had, all the championships and all the moments we had together. We sat there for hours, just talking and laughed. And I was thanking him for being a father figure,” said Johnson. “And I knew I was saying goodbye. So I held his hand and we got a chance to reminisce and talk about how we built the Lakers to what they are today.

“When we left each other we both just started crying, because we knew that was going to be the last time for both of us.”

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Magic Johnson picks Michael Jordan over Kobe Bryant; offers high praise of Bryant

LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES:  Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (L) eyes the basket as he is guarded by Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during their 01 February game in Los Angeles, CA. Jordan will appear in his 12th NBA All-Star game 08 February while Bryant will make his first All-Star appearance. The Lakers won the game 112-87.  AFP PHOTO/Vince BUCCI (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (L) eyes the basket as he is guarded by Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during their 01 February game in Los Angeles, CA. Jordan will appear in his 12th NBA All-Star game 08 February while Bryant will make his first All-Star appearance. The Lakers won the game 112-87. AFP PHOTO/Vince BUCCI (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)

During the Q/A portion of Magic Johnson’s “Evening With” series at Long Beach State University Monday evening, the former Lakers great was asked to choose between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

“Jordan over Kobe, even though I like Kobe a lot and Kobe is my man,” said Johnson. “But Michael Jordan never lost a Finals. Six trips and 6-0.”

“I love Kobe, but he is not Michael. But he’s the closest to (him) that we have ever seen. Kobe got game.”

Even though he called it an “easy” decision to pick Jordan over Bryant, Johnson did not hesitate to offer high praise of the Lakers superstar, who missed the majority of the season with knee injuries.

“I hope that (Kobe) is healthy so he can lead our Lakers back,” said Johnson. “He’s on my Mount Rushmore. He is unreal. Think about his mindset and attitude and how he can just do it night in and night out. That’s one thing great about Kobe. I love him.”

Johnson was also asked to choose between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He said that was also an easy choice to make, seeing as James can beat an opponent in so many ways. But Johnson called Durant the MVP this season.

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Reserve center Chris Kaman to fill in for doubtful Pau Gasol (vertigo) vs. Knicks after long drought in playing time

Chris Kaman will make his return to court for the Lakers and he isn’t even injured. Kaman, whose time on the court has ranged from starting to not playing a minute, will fill in for Pau Gasol against the Knicks, who is listed as doubtful with vertigo.

These will be the first meaningful minutes for the center in 12 games, seeing as he has only played four minutes combined in those dozen games. Kaman has currently gone 10-straight games without playing a single minute, which is the longest stretch this season for him. Prior to the playing time drought, Kaman was averaging 23.7 minutes in a 10-game stretch.

But that hot and cold situation with Kaman’s minutes does not worry D’ Antoni and his center’s ability to contribute after a long lull.

“I’ve always had confidence in him,” said D’ Antoni. “I think he’s played well, but obviously that position is a little weird and Jordan Hill you want to get him a lot of time. So it’s either very short minutes for him or he starts, and he’s a much better starter.

“It’s not his fault, it’s just the way it works out.”

Kaman declined to speak with media after the morning shoot around.

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Steve Nash and Pau Gasol listed as doubtful vs. Knicks; Xavier Henry will play with wrist injury

During Lakers’ shoot around, head coach Mark D’ Antoni told the media that center Pau Gasol and point guard Steve Nash would be listed as doubtful for tonight’s contest against the Knicks.

Gasol experienced vertigo and nausea during Sunday’s game against Orlando and did not play the second half. Nash (back) was initially thought to be lost for the season, but made a return Friday against the Wizards, playing 19 minutes. He scored five points and dished 11 assists.

Nash will try to give it a go before the start of tonight’s game at the Staples Center, while Gasol will be evaluated today.

“He has an appointment (today),” said D’ Antoni of Gasol. “But I think he is doubtful.”

D’Antoni also added that he had not spoken with Gasol, but that he heard he was feeling a little bit better. He was not present at the shoot around.

But someone who will be taking the court against the Knicks is Xavier Henry, who suffered a torn ligament in his left wrist in that loss to the Washington Wizards. Henry is part of the backup point guard by committee (along with Kent Bazemore) behind Kendall Marshall.

D’ Antoni said he didn’t know if Henry would play well, but that he would be playing.

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Lakers Wednesday shoot around: Lineup vs. Spurs and backup PG situation

Starting lineup vs. the Spurs 

After the Lakers’ shoot around, head coach Mike D’Antoni said his starting lineup for the Spurs would be the same group of guys as last time: Kendall Marshall, Wesley Johnson, Jodie Meeks, Ryan Kelly and Pau Gasol.

That was the same lineup that started against the Spurs in San Antonio on Friday. The Lakers lost that game 85-119 and were led by Gasol with 18 points and Meeks with 15.

Back to Square One

The Lakers find themselves in a very familiar situation: riddled with frustrating injuries that leaves them with just one true point guard on the roster in Marshall after Jordan Farmar suffered a groin injury on Monday, sidelining him once again.

“It’s kind of been that way all year,” said D’ Antoni on the point guard situation. “But it gives someone else a chance and I’m sure they will step up and we’ll see if we can do it.”

Farmar has played in 36 games for the Lakers this season and has been effective for L.A., averaging 10.4 ppg and 4.7 assists when healthy. But the veteran has battled hamstring and groin injuries throughout the season.

“He’s had a good year, he’s played well,” said D’ Antoni. “Kind of weird, but he had a good year and maybe he will get back. We’ll see.”

D’ Antoni said the backup point guard spot will be done by committee in Xavier Henry and Kent Bazemore.

Ryan Kelly Stepping Up 

With so many injuries plaguing the Lakers, L.A. has had to reach deep in their bench. One of those reserves that has benefited the most is rookie forward Ryan Kelly. In the first two months of the season, the second-round draft pick played in just 10 games.

When players started falling to the sideline in the winter, Kelly’s game action shot up and in the months of January and February, Kelly played in 26 games, averaging 22.5 minutes per game. In March, Kelly has played in seven games and is averaging a season-high 26.2 minutes.

“I think he’s playing really well and he’s getting better. I think he’s learning the rigors of the game, but he keeps surprising you athletically, he’s a little bit better than what you think,” said D’ Antoni. “He keeps learning and he’s doing pretty well.”

Kelly has started 16 this season, averaging 7.5 points per game and 3.3 rebounds.

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