Amid all the unanswered questions surrounding how the Lakers assemble their roster this offseason, it appears they reached clarity on one matter.
It appears the Lakers seem set on retaining rookie forward/center Tarik Black, who has a non-guaranteed contract worth $850,000 next season.
“We get another year to look at him,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said, “and see what he’s got and go from there.”
That should give Black some added relief in finding some relative stability. He spent the last year going undrafted and then playing 25 games for the Houston Rockets before they cut him to sign free-agent Josh Smith after Detroit surprisingly waived him.
After the Lakers (21-58) picked him up through the waiver wire in late December, Black enters Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks (48-31) at Staples Center averaging 7.2 points on 55.6 percent shooting and six rebounds through 35 games. He has also averaged 9.5 points on a 60 percent clip and 6.9 rebounds in the past 17 games as a starter, a stretch that included four double doubles and a career-high 18 points in Friday’s win against Minnesota.
Yet, Black pointed to his surprise cut from Houston as “exactly why it doesn’t give me added comfort.”
“I would like to believe they would like to keep me. But going into the summer, you never know what will happen,” Black said. “Either way, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity and have been very fortunate with guys having my back 100 percent and carrying me along the way. That’s what I’m going to keep hanging my hat on. I’ll keep living in the moment and allow God to do what he does for me.” Continue reading →
Lakers#17 Jeremy Lin drives the lane against Pelicans#3 Omer Asik in the first half. The Los Angeles Lakers played the New Orleans Pelicans in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. April 1, 2015. (Photos by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)
Lakers guard Jeremy Lin missed Saturday’s practice so he could receive treatment to heal persistent soreness in his left knee. Lin has missed the past two games because of his latest injury, and a recent MRI confirmed an abnormality in his meniscus that has existed since having surgery in 2012.
The Lakers (21-58) have not ruled out Lin playing for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks (48-31) at Staples Center. After practice ended, Lin emerged on the court and completed some dribbling and shooting drills drills with Lakers player development coach Thomas Scott.
“He’s getting better,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Lin. “He went through his treatment. We’ll just see how he feels tomorrow in shootaround.”
The tipoff only happened a few seconds ago. The Lakers did not appear seemed settled enough to begin running an offensive set. The Minnesota Timberwolves barely appeared ready to organize their defensive coverages.
Then out of nowhere, Lakers forward Ryan Kelly provide something that he struggled to do mostly all season amid injuries and an uncomfortable role. He positively impacted the game. Kelly threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk, a play that he believed helped “set the tone” in what became a season-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting and seven assists in the Lakers’ 106-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday at Staples Center.
Yet, what mostly defined Kelly’s play involved everything else that happened after that play. Kelly looked confident. He consistently made shots. The Lakers collected 35 assists, which Lakers coach Byron Scott quickly pointed out, “a lot of that had to do with Ryan.” All of which summed up a breakout game Kelly called “super valuable” in an otherwise forgettable game as the Lakers (21-58) play only three more games before finishing a season without a playoff appearance for the second consecutive year.
“I didn’t have the season I would’ve liked,” Kelly said. “Every opportunity I have these last few is an opportunity to prove to the coaching staff, my teammates and our fans that I should be here.” Continue reading →
Los Angeles Lakers’ Jeremy Lin, left, puts up a shot against Phoenix Suns’ Earl Barron during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (File photo/AP Photo)
It’s perhaps too early to know if Jeremy Lin will ever play again in the 2014-15 season.
But the Lakers (20-58) will at least pencil Lin out for Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-62) at Staples Center because of continued soreness in his left knee. His MRI later showed an abnormality in his meniscus, something that stayed consistent after Lin had surgery on his knee in 2012. The Lakers do not consider the injury serious and will reevaluate him in hopes he can play in any of the final three regular-season games.
Lin also missed Wednesday’s loss in Denver after pain unexpectedly emerged in his left knee. Lakers guard Jabari Brown still start in Lin’s place at shooting guard for the second consecutive game alongside rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson, both of whom played together last season at University of Missouri.
“He complained it was a little sore the other night. We decided to rest him for that game,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Lin . “Hopefully we have the results today before tonight’s game.” Continue reading →
The game kept replaying in Jordan Clarkson’s head, even if the constant reminders made the Lakers rookie point guard feel upset.
The images entailed everything that allowed the Clippers to give him nightmares. The constant double teams. Chris Paul’s unyielding aggressiveness. Clarkson’s uncertainty on what to do with the ball. When he didn’t think about those things, Clarkson watched them on tape.
All of which gave Clarkson both the motivation and knowledge to make adjustments. The Lakers may not have fully executed coach Byron Scott’s expletive-laced orders to “compete” in their 105-100 loss on Tuesday to the Clippers in a designated road game at Staples Center. But Clarkson provided the perfect counter punch by posting a team-leading 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting, a 5-of-6 mark from the foul line, six assists and four rebounds merely 48 hours after scoring two points on a 1-of-6 clip against the same opponent.
“I’m just trying to get better,” Clarkson said. “It’ll separate me from anybody else. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m trying to get better ever day.”
Byron Scott’s coaching style is largely influenced by former Lakers coach Pat Riley, now President of the Miami Heat. The Heat come into town to play the Lakers at Staples Center, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (Photo by Scott Varley/Daily Breeze)
Exactly eight days remain before the Lakers’ forgettable 2014-15 season. Regardless of how things turn out in the Lakers’ six remaining games, a few things will become inevitable.
The Lakers (20-56) will miss the NBA playoffs for the second consecutive season, and only the seventh time in franchise history. They will have plenty of roster holes to fill both through the NBA draft and free agency. They will encounter plenty of unanswered questions about their health, the most notably involving Kobe Bryant’s third consecutive season-ending injury.
Yet, Lakers coach Byron Scott has still held extended practices, vowing that “the season ain’t over.”
“We still have work to do,” said Scott, whose team will play the Clippers (52-26) in a designated road game at Staples Center. “We’re still trying to implement some of the things for next year as well. We don’t know how many guys will be here. The first thing is I don’t quit.”
Scott remains curious to see which ones will adopt the same attitude.
“I got a sense of a whole lot of people I wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with,” Scott said, laughing. “I think they’d end up shooting me in the back. I have a pretty good sense of the guys who will be around that we can build around and build together this process and go through it. I think we’ll be fine.”
Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, right, fouls Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 5, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Practice already ended, but Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson stood on the sidelines eager to learn more lessons. He stood right next to Lakers coach Byron Scott, who offered plenty of feedback after posting two points on 1-of-6 shooting, three assists and two turnovers in the Lakers’ 106-78 loss to the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center.
“I’m probably one of my hardest critics,” Clarkson said. “Sometimes that’s kind of bad. I’m so hard on myself that I get down.”
Yet, Clarkson and the Lakers this time believe that mindset will pay off.
Clarkson called his latest performance “probably one of my worst games this year” considering he has averaged 14.9 points on 46.2 percent shooting and 4.7 assists since becoming the Lakers’ starting point guard for the past 32 games. It did not help that Clippers guard Chris Paul made up for his seven points by posting 15 assists and leading the Clippers’ relentless double-team effort on Clarkson.
“We knew Chris would come in that way, knowing Jordan had been playing extremely well and got rookie of the month in March,” said Scott, who coached Paul in New Orleans from 2004 to 2009. “CP is one of those guys who likes making statements. Last night, he did of a hell of a job on him as well as his bigs.”
All of which left Clarkson eager for when the Lakers (20-56) play the Clippers (52-26) on Tuesday in a designated road game at Staples Center.
It’s good. I can definitely redeem myself,” Clarkson said. “We’re going to attack and play aggressively. All I was thinking about after the game was Tuesday. I just got to come back and play better.”
“Clippers DeAndre Jordan slams in two points during first half action at Staples Center Sunday. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) “
The humiliation the Lakers experienced in their 106-78 loss to the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center went beyond Chris Paul dribbling between the legs of Lakers forward Carlos Boozer. Or Paul throwing it off-the-backboard lob to Blake Griffin.
The Lakers also set a franchise record for losses in a single season, their 20-56 mark eclipsing last year’s 27-55 finish. The Lakers’ 26.3 winning percentage is slightly worse than the Minneapolis Lakers seasons in 1957-58 (19-53, 26.4%) and 1959-60 (25-50, 33.33%)
“Obviously losing doesn’t sit well with me period,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I’m not thinking about the record. But the losing part doesn’t sit well with me. Hopefully it doesn’t sit with those guys in the locker room as well.” Continue reading →
Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson goes to the hoop against the Trail Blazers’ Robin Lopez, Friday, April 3, 2015, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)
The compliments gushed out of Byron Scott’s mouth, perhaps as quickly as takes Jordan Clarkson to run up the court and score.
Scott said that Clarkson “single-handedly got us back in the game,” his team-high 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists perhaps the lone bright spot in the Lakers’ 107-77 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday at Staples Center. Scott noted how Clarkson became vocal with unnamed teammates for their poor effort. Scott defended Clarkson, arguing Portland guard Damian Lillard’s 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting had more to do with the Lakers’ team defense than any of Clarkson’s defensive miscues.
Add it all up, and Scott revealed it feels “exciting” to how the 22-year-old Clarkson has “shown me a little bit more growth as a basketball player” nearly every game. Yet, it appears Clarkson’s ceilings could have limitations.
“We know he’s going to be on our team next year,” Scott said, referring to Clarkson’s team option for the 2015-16 season worth a relatively inexpensive $845,059. “But we have to add pieces. There’s no doubt about that. I don’t think we necessarily are saying we’re building around him. But we’re adding pieces with him.” Continue reading →
The Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, who scored a game-high 26 points, goes up for a shot. matt slocum – the associated press
The NBA has strongly noticed how quickly Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson has grown.
Clarkson was named the NBA’s Western Conference Rookie of the Month for games in March, an honor that makes him the first ever Lakers player to be honored with the award since it was first presented in 1981-82.
“I think it’s great,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “It shows the progress he has made and what a hard work he’s put into it.”
Clarkson averaged a team-leading 15.8 points on 45.2 percent shooting, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds through 16 games in March. Clarkson, whom the Lakers secured through the 46th pick, also secured wins last week in Minnesota (free throws) and Philadelphia (layup). Against the Sixers, Clarkson joined Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Washington’s John Wall and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook as the only players in the NBA this season to post 26 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and three steals in a game. In last week’s loss in Oklahoma City, Clarkson also posted career-highs in points (30) and blocks (three), making him the first Lakers rookie to score 30 points in a game since Eddie Jones achieved the same accomplishment on Feb. 4, 1995.
Overall, Clarkson ranks third among rookies in points per game (10.9), field goal percentage (44.7) and free throw percentage (82.8)
“The game is slowing down for him,” Scott said of Clarkson. “He sees it a little bit clearer now. It’s not such a blur to him. We still have to work on his change of speeds and change of pace at times. But for the most part, we’re seeing plays now that are starting to happen. Earlier in the season, it would happen. But it was over with before we saw what was really going on. Now he has a pretty good grasp of what’s going on. He’s seeing the man when he’s open and he’s delivering the ball at the right time in the right place.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org