Lakers announce 2017 preseason schedule

Of all the variables that determine how quickly the Lakers’ young roster develops in the 2017-18 season, training camp will become a less determining factor.

That’s because the NBA has shortened the amount of preseason games in hopes to help with player rest and recovery. Though this gives the Lakers less time to prepare with practice and preseason games, Lakers coach Luke Walton represented one of many NBA coaches that favored reducing the exhibition schedule for recovery purposes.

After normally starting exhibition play in early October, the Lakers’ preseason opener will be on Sept. 30 against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Anaheim’s Honda Center. The Lakers then play on Oct. 2 against Denver (Staples Center), Oct. 4 against Denver (Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario) and Oct. 8 against Sacramento (T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas). The Lakers will then conclude their exhibition schedule at Staples Center against Utah on Oct. 10 and the Clippers on Oct. 13. The NBA will release the schedule for the 2017-18 regular season sometime in early August.

Because of the condensed preseason schedule, the Lakers will not play in San Diego as they had in past seasons. The Lakers will not play in the hometown of coach Luke Walton for only the fourth time in the past 15 years. They also did not play exhibition games in San Diego in 2007 (trip to Hawaii), 2011 (lockout-shortened preseason) and 2013 (trip to China).

Tickets for games in Anaheim, Ontario and Las Vegas will go on sale at 10 a.m. PT on June 12, while tickets for games at Staples Center will go on sale at a later unannounced date.

Fans can buy tickets for the games in Anaheim and Ontario through www.ticketmaster.com or by phone (1-800-4-NBA-TIX for Anaheim; 1-800-745-300 in Ontario). For Anaheim, tickets are also available at the Honda Center box office, priced at $20, $25, $41, $74 and $129. Group seats of 15 or more are available for purchase by calling 1-714-940-2859 or visiting www.hondacenter.com. For Ontario, tickets are also available at the Citizens Business Bank Arena Box Office (Monday-Friday; 12pm-5pm), priced at $22, $39, $65, $75, $115 and $125.

As for the game in Las Vegas, fans can buy tickets through www.axs.com, by phone (1-888-929-7849) or at the T-Mobile Arena Box office. Those tickets are priced at $22, $37, $52, $75, $90 and $145.

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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” podcast on iTunes.

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De’Aaron Fox plans to work out with Lakers on June 13

The Lakers plan to host an individual workout for former Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox on June 13, according to league sources familiar with the situation. After working out last week with the Sacramento Kings, Fox also plans to work out with the Philadelphia 76ers at some point the following weekend (June 16-18).

The Lakers also had an individual workout on Wednesday for former UCLA guard Lonzo Ball. They reportedly plan to watch Kansas shooting guard/small fowrard Josh Jackson in Sacramento on Thursday.

Plenty in NBA circles expect the Lakers to draft Ball because of his strong passing and shooting abilities he displayed during his lone season with the Bruins. Ball also could become a marketing draw with the Los Angeles native starring at Chino Hills and his father, LaVar, pursuing various business ventures with his “Big Baller Brand.” Yet, the Lakers have maintained an open mind on who they would select at No. 2.

Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have publicly downplayed whether LaVar Ball’s outspoken nature could deter them from drafting his son. Yet, plenty in NBA circles suspect the Lakers will inquire about LaVar Ball’s level of involvement and ensure he would do nothing to undermine the team’s front office, coaching staff and players. The Lakers also like Fox after averaging 16.7 points on 47.9 percent shooting, 4.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds with the Wildcats.

The Lakers were impressed with Fox when they interviewed him last month at the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago. They also were impressed with Fox’s workout at the Catalyst Sports’ Pro Day in Los Angeles last weekend.

Although they will consider various factors in their No. 2 selection, Johnson and Pelinka had witnessed Kentucky’s victory over UCLA in the Sweet 16 where Fox had 39 points, while Ball had only 10 points. Although plenty of NBA talent evaluators believe Ball will make the Lakers’ offense more fluid and make D’Angelo Russell more comfortable as an off-ball guard, plenty believe that tandem will faced numerous challenges defensively. Meanwhile, Fox is considered the best backcourt defender in this year’s draft class, a skill that could elevate the Lakers after faring nearly last in the NBA last season in several defensive categories.

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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” podcast on iTunes.

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Magic Johnson: Showtime Lakers “would probably sweep” Warriors

Tv personality Cari Champion, Magic Johnson and Pat Riley speak onstage during the American Express Teamed Up with Magic Johnson and Pat Riley on June 5, 2017 at the Conga Room in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for American Express)

The game can only take place in everyone’s imagination. But it’s a game the participants wished they could play to prove their on-court supremacy and place in NBA history.

On one side of the court stand the Showtime Lakers, which featured a dazzling point guard (Magic Johnson), a center with a distinguishable sky hook (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and a versatile forward (James Worthy). On the other side of the court stand the Golden State Warriors, which have a backcourt that seemingly never misses a shot (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson), a newly acquired star player (Kevin Durant) and a feisty defender (Draymond Green). Both teams have too many players in their supporting cast to count.

All of those ingredients have the makings of what believe would be a competitive seven-game NBA Finals series. Well, not everyone thinks that way.

“We would probably sweep them,” Johnson said on Monday at an American Express-sponsored event at the Conga Room in L.A. Live. They’re too small.”

Several in the audience laughed and cheered. Heat president and former Lakers coach Pat Riley then interjected, “Try putting somebody on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.”

That somebody would be Warriors center Zaza Pachulia.

“Zaza, I’m sorry,” Johnson said, laughing.

Continue reading “Magic Johnson: Showtime Lakers “would probably sweep” Warriors” »

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Champions Basketball League launches Los Angeles Superstars

In a city consumed with the Lakers’ championship parades and star players, Los Angeles has just launched a team that will give fans a say in constructing a title-contending roster.

No, the Lakers are not hiring fans to work with their front office brass in governor Jeanie Buss, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka. Champions League Basketball, a new professional summer basketball league featuring former NBA players, launched the Los Angeles Superstars, a team that will allow fans to have an ownership role by investing in the team.

The Superstars’ brass will include former Lakers coach Byron Scott (president), former Lakers guard Gary Payton (general manager) and former Lakers guard Mitch Richmond (head coach). Meanwhile, the Superstars roster will include various former NBA players, including Corey Maggette, Carlos Boozer, Al Thornton, Mike Bibby, Marcus Banks, Josh Childress, Daniel ‘Boobie’ Gibson, Jamario Moon and Brian Cook.

Team ownership will include various perks, including attendance to practice, sitting in the owners section, attending team parties, receiving discounts on tickets, merchandise and parking, attending player meet-and-greets, participating in management conference calls and having the chance to be an assistant coach for a game. The league, which will feature more than 160 players, will have regular-season play in July and August followed by a tournament in Las Vegas in September. The Champions Basketball League posted information on fan investment opportunities on their website.

“After decades of involvement with the sport, it was obvious that fans wanted more opportunities to connect with the game,” said L.A. SuperStars CEO and Western Region EVP Mark Scoggins said in a statement. “So, we created the opportunity where fans could be owners, with the amazing perks ownership implies. This is actual ownership where fans become owners along with our founding team owners, so it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fans to be more connected than ever before to a professional sports team. Fans for the first time in L.A. history can enjoy all the special perks that only ownership can bring.”


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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” podcast on iTunes.

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Lakers hire Gunnar Peterson as director of strength and endurance training

After making several changes to various behind-the-scenes positions this offseason, the Lakers have started hiring new members to their organization.

As part of efforts from Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka to restructure their staff, the Lakers named Gunnar Peterson as the team’s Director of Strength and Endurance Training.

Peterson had served as a personal trainer in Beverly Hills for the past 28 years for various athletes in the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, USTA, boxing and various NCAA tournaments as well as entertainers. According to Peterson’s website, he has also trained reality television stars Khloe and Kim Kardashian.

“From his time in college at Duke University until now, Gunnar has pursued excellence in training and fitness,” Pelinka said in a statement. “Gunnar is a true pioneer and visionary at his craft, and will bring a new mentality to our weight room which we are all very excited about. Since Magic and I have worked with Gunnar in the past, we have a strong relationship with him, which makes working together now feel seamless.”

Peterson replaced Tim DiFrancesco, who had served as the Lakers’ strength and conditioning coach for the past 6 1/2 seasons before resigning earlier this month. The Lakers also had parted ways with assistant strength and conditioning coach Sean Light.

The Lakers said that Peterson “will design and implement a strength and conditioning program for the team with the goal of keeping the players performing at elite levels throughout the NBA season.”

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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” podcast on iTunes.

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Luke Walton said Lakers will ask UCLA about LaVar Ball

Lonzo Ball has sparked attention for his play. He has garnered rave reviews about his passing, scoring and leadership qualities during his lone season at UCLA.

LaVar Ball has sparked attention for his self-promotion. He has launched the Big Baller Brand shoes that cost $495 a pair, has claimed he can beat Michael Jordan one-on-one and has gushed about his son’s greatness.

LaVar Ball also has maintained it’s a foregone conclusion his son will wear a purple and gold uniform. Yet, Lakers coach Luke Walton said the team will conduct more research before making its final decision for the NBA Draft on June 22. That includes the Lakers asking UCLA coach Steve Alford about LaVar Ball.

“I wouldn’t personally. But yes, somebody in our organization will,” Walton said Friday on “The Dan Patrick Show. “Absolutely.”

Walton chalked up those inquiries as part of the Lakers’ due diligence the Lakers on every prospect. So while Walton has scoured clips the scouting department has put together on each candidate for the Lakers’ No. 2 and No. 28 picks, Walton said the Lakers plan to contact every school about how each player treated people behind the scenes and how they took care of their body in the trainer’s room.

Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have generally downplayed whether LaVar Ball’s outspokenness could deter them from selecting Lonzo Ball. Instead, they have stressed they will evaluate Lonzo Ball more on his past performances, pre-draft workouts and interviews. But does LaVar Ball worry Walton?

“Not yet. When we get closer to the draft, I;m sure we’ll get a packet of information on every player we’re interested in,” Walton said. “We’ll sit down and discuss it all. But right now, I’m not concerned at all. I’m mostly concerned with which player can help us win more than 26 games the most.”

Continue reading “Luke Walton said Lakers will ask UCLA about LaVar Ball” »

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Magic Johnson on what the Lakers do with the No. 2 pick

Mark Medina, the Lakers beat writer for Southern California News Group, breaks down the NBA Draft Lottery where the Lakers landed the #2 overall pick. Does this mean the team goes with Lonzo Ball? You’ll hear from Lakers upper management, including Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.


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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” podcast on iTunes.

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Rudy Tomjanovich no longer with the Lakers

The Lakers’ wave of sea changes in their basketball operations department included Rudy Tomjanovich, who coached the Lakers 43 games into the 2004-05 season before abruptly resigning and serving as a consultant for the Lakers in various capacities in subsequent years.

A Lakers spokesperson attributed Tomjanovich’s departure to “part of the reorganization of basketball operations,” which took place shortly after the 2016-17 season ended in mid-April. Last season, Tomjanovich served as a consultant and scout for the Lakers’ basketball analytics department. Tomjanovich’s son, Trey, also is not part of the staff after serving as a consultant and helping with statistical analysis in the basketball analytics department.

The Lakers had signed Tomjanovich to a five-year, $30 million contract to replace Phil Jackson for the 2004-05 season after guiding the Houston Rockets to two NBA championships (1994, 1995) during his 12-year tenure (1991-2003). But Tomjanovich resigned 43 games into the 2004-05 season with a 24-19 record, citing physical and emotional difficulties. The Lakers still retained Tomjanovich in a consulting capacity.

Tomjanovich had been previously linked to a dark part of the Lakers’ history. Tomjanovich, who played with the Rockets from 1971 to 1981, suffered a vicious punch from former Lakers forward Kermit Washington during an on-court scuffle at the Forum. Tomjanovich suffered compound facial fractures and retired in 1981.

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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” podcast on iTunes.

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Spectrum SportsNet’s Chris McGee optimistic about Lakers’ chances in NBA draft lottery

The Lakers have not been the most exciting team to watch over the past few seasons, with reasons to tune in few and far between for even the most die-hard Laker fan. One man who has seen every minute of the Lakers and their precipitous drop from the top of the NBA is Spectrum SportsNet’s Chris McGee.

McGee joins Mark Medina, the Lakers beat writer of the Southern California News Group on the “We Want Tacos” Lakers podcast to express his optimism surrounding the Lakers’ chances in keeping their top-three protected pick in the NBA draft lottery on May 16. McGee also has insight on hosting shows on draft lottery night and insight on Lakers head coach Luke Walton.


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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” podcast on iTunes.

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Lakers scout Chaz Osborne no longer with team

Lakers scout Chaz Osborne no longer works with the team, with what a Lakers spokesperson said is “part of the reorganization of basketball operations.” The Lakers parted ways with Osborne earlier last month shortly after the 2016-17 season ended. Osborne was known to be close with former Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, who was fired on February by his sister, Lakers governor Jeanie Buss.

After replacing her brother with Magic Johnson as the president of basketball operations, Jeanie Buss then hired Rob Pelinka as in place of longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak. Since their hiring, Johnson and Pelinka have said they would evaluate everyone working with the Lakers franchise.

Since then, former assistant general manager Glenn Carraro and strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco resigned from their respective positions. Meanwhile, the Lakers parted ways with numerous people, including former player director of player development Rondre Jackson, coordinator of basketball operations Tania Jolly and assistant strength and conditioning coach Sean Light.

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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” podcast on iTunes.

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