Lakers’ Wayne Ellington makes his return in Dallas, but unlikely to play

DALLAS — Lakers reserve guard Wayne Ellington returned to the team on Thursday after taking an approved absence for over the past week because of his father’s murder in Philadelphia.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said it is unlikely Ellington will play in tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Arena, hopeful that continuity from the teams’ two-game winning streak will carry over.

“He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of sleep and lost weight,” Scott said. “That’s all understandable given what he’s been through. For us and for him, the best thing is to get back with the team as soon as possible and get back to his family. Now it’s up to us to make him feel back at home.”
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Kobe Bryant argues his extension still gave Lakers enough to build a contender

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, center, puts up a shot as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, left, and center Andrew Bogut, of Australia, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Warriors won 136-115. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, center, puts up a shot as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, left, and center Andrew Bogut, of Australia, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Warriors won 136-115. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

DALLAS — The last time Kobe Bryant stepped foot here, he unleashed a 38-point barrage against the Mavericks that provided a perfect retort to owner Mark Cuban suggesting the Lakers should use the amnesty provision on him.

“Amnesty that,” Bryant then tweeted.

It remains to be seen whether Bryant will fire off any similar barbs through 140 characters. But Bryant had plenty to say about the business of basketball, strongly defending the Lakers granting him a two-year $48.5 million extension last year while still rehabbing his left Achilles tendon.

“Did I take a discount? Yeah,” Bryant said. “Did I take a discount as much as fans want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah. What we tried to do is be in a situation where we take care of the player and the player takes care of the organization enough to put them in a championship predicament.”

Plenty of rebuttals await considering the Lakers (3-9) have opened the 2014-15 season with their worst start in L.A. franchise history. But even with Bryant’s extension, the Lakers still offered max contracts to LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers offered the most money to Pau Gasol, who chose the Chicago Bulls because he wanted to join a championship contending team. The Lakers gave generous raises to Nick Young (four years, $21 million) and Jordan Hill (two years, $18 million).

But Bryant addressed this issue considering Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki took a steep hometown discount this summer, a three-year deal worth $25 million.

“I think that means he’s not playing in Los Angeles,” Bryant said. “I think it’s not about the winning portion of it. That’s where players get themselves in a lot of trouble. That might offend some people but I’ve played 19 years in the NBA so I don’t care. It’s about the business of basketball. For a lot of writers and fans, they have a tough time distinguishing the two. This is a business. You have to look at the individuals into what they generated, the market that they generated revenue. You cant’ separate them, People have a hard time separating that stuff. From a business perspective you have to take that into account. As a player you have to try to as a player be in situations where you can have a win win for everybody.”

Nowitzki’s paycut opened up room for the Mavericks to acquire Chandler Parsons from Houston and Tyson Chandler from New York during free agency. San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan also took a paycut, signing a three-year, $30 million deal that expires this summer. That assured the Spurs retained veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, while having complementary pieces such as Kawhi Leonard and a bench that averaged a league-leading 44.3 points per game.

But Bryant considers those examples as comparing apples-to-oranges. Bryant also laughed when told Cuban has argued against max contracts, saying, “you have to consider the source.”

“It’s the popular thing to do. Players take less, blah, blah, blah,” Bryant said. “But I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money,. If you don’t, then you get criticized for it and all this stuff. It’s absolutely brilliant. But I’m not going for it. I know the new head of the players association isn’t going for it either.”

The NBA and its players association agreed to a near 50-50 split in basketball revenue during the 2011 lockout. So how should the players union respond during the 2017 offseason considering the NBA’s record-breaking nine-year television contract with ESPN and Turner Broadcasting is worth a reported $24 billion?

“We’ll work to change that,” Bryant said. “We’ll work to change that, just for the challenge of changing it.”

But Bryant stressed he won’t be around for that, maintaining he won’t play beyond his contract that expires following the 2015-16 season.

“I wont be playing,” Bryant said. “I wont be playing.”


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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’ Nick Young receives flop warning from NBA

The Lakers find Nick Young’s personality endearing. But there was one act the NBA hardly thought was amusing.

The league issued Young a flop warning on Thursday in regards to a play in the Lakers’ 114-109 victory Tuesday over the Atlanta Hawks. In that game, Young drew a foul on Atlanta’s Kyle Korver while shooting a corner three-point shot. NBA.com showed a video of the replay, which shows that Korver did not make any contact with Young. But that didn’t stop the Lakers’ reserve from sliding out of bounds after shooting the ball.

Young won’t actually receive any punishment. But after the NBA issues a warning, the league fines a player $5,000 for a second flopping violation. The monetary penalties increase with each additional flop, including a suspension.

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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’ Kobe Bryant downplays on-court scuffle with Dwight Howard

ATLANTA — The video emerged for all to see.

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard tangled in a skirmish a month ago. It first started with Howard swinging his elbows toward Bryant’s jaw as he defended him. It continued with the two jawing back and forth, including Bryant calling Howard “soft.” More video went viral that showed Bryant addressing Howard with words not suitable for print, suggesting the strain of their relationship as former teammates two seasons ago still stands.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant addressed Howard in a recent game with a similar offending slur.

“I don’t feel that way and I don’t think Kevin does either,” Bryant said Wednesday. “In moments of confrontation during a game you’ll say things during the heat of the moment. I know Dwight, I’m sure Kevin does. We don’t feel that way about him. It’s like when you get in an argument with somebody you’ll say things out of frustration or anger that you really don’t mean.”

Is Bryant aware of that when it is happening in real time?

“In the moment? No,” Bryant said. “In hindsight? Yes, especially now with social media. Everybody has a camera. You try to be conscious as possible in the fact that kids are watching.”

No such incidents happened during the Lakers’ 98-92 victory Wednesday over the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. That’s because officials announced that Howard would miss the game because of a strained right knee moments before tipoff. Howard also did not watch the game from the bench.

The injury was a surprise considering Howard attended the team’s morning shootaround. There, a Rockets official promptly cut off a reporter’s question about Howard being investigated for child abuse.


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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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Nick Young energizes Lakers with his arrival

ATLANTA — Amid all the Lakers’ gloomy circumstances, an important figure arrived to help the team temporarily stop worrying about their issues.

It started with Nick Young talking trash during his first morning shootaround since breaking his right thumb six weeks ago by proclaiming himself as the game’s best three-point shooter ever.

It continued with Young’s 17 points off the bench both securing a Lakers’ 114-109 victory Tuesday over the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena and ensured more offensive balance outside of Kobe Bryant.

It ended with Young taking nearly complete credit for the Lakers (2-9) ending a four-game losing streak and picking up their first road win of the 2014-15 season.

“It’s like my swag rubbed off on everybody,” Young said. “It’s unbelievable.”
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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant becomes fourth player to reach 32,000 points

ATLANTA — The crowd rose to its feet. They then chanted Kobe Bryant’s name, the fervent noise from Lakers supporters making Philips Arena sound like Staples Center. Bryant backed his way into the post. He picked up his dribble. He moved his pivot foot. Then, he unleashed a 20-foot fadeway over Atlanta forward Thabo Sefolosha and drew a foul, a play that brought more implications than just influencing the final score.

The basket then swished into the net. Bryant tightened his jaw. His teammates Carlos Boozer and Nick Young pumped out their fists in mid-air. The noise level reached deafening levels.

Bryant just became the fourth player in NBA history to reach 32,000 points, joining a select group that also includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan. The shot also represented a large part in ensuring the Lakers’ 114-109 victory Tuesday over the Atlanta Hawks and snapping the team’s four-game losing streak.

That play gave the Lakers a 108-102 cushion with 1:11 remaining, representing Bryant’s nine fourth-quarter points that also included two more fadeaway jumpers, a nifty left hook shot, a driving layup and a made free throw.

“That’s my job,” Bryant said.

And as indicated by his new scoring milestone, it is a job he has completed very well.

“It means a lot,” Bryant said. “I can’t stress how much work it is to be in this position to be able to get out and play. Over 19 years, that’s where I take enjoyment from it is the process. It’s a lot of work over 19 years. It feels good to have that accomplishment.”

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Lakers’ Wayne Ellington expected to rejoin team in Dallas

ATLANTA — The Lakers have given Wayne Ellington a comfortable distance since taking an indefinite absence last week after his father was shot and killed in Philadelphia.

But Lakers coach Byron Scott reported that Ellington informed him Monday night that he intends to rejoin the team Thursday in Dallas. The Lakers will then play Friday against the Dallas Mavericks.

“He’s hanging in there and is also ready to be back with his basketball family as well,” Scott said. “Guys would love to see him and embrace him and tell him how much they care for him and miss him and tell him how badly they feel about what happened to his family. We all want to let him know that we’re here for him.”

Ellington missed the past four games while spending time with his family in Philadelphia. He also attended his father’s funeral on Saturday.

Ellington made the Lakers’ roster on a non-guaranteed contract, averaging 7.8 points on 57.1 percent shooting in 20.6 minutes as both a backup shooting and point guard. Ellington grew up outside Philadelphia before starring at North Carolna and having numerous stops in his five-year NBA career, including Minnesota (2009-12), Cleveland (2012-13), Memphis (2012-13), Dallas (2013-14) and the Lakers (2014-15). Ellington has a non-guaranteed deal in the offseason, though $581,692 of his contract locks in if he stays on the roster past Dec. 1.

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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’ Steve Nash intends to return to team soon

Los Angeles Lakers' Steve Nash, right, passes off the ball as Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Pauldefends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash, right, passes off the ball as Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Pauldefends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

ATLANTA –It took a few days to happen. But Steve Nash finally touched base with Lakers coach Byron Scott.

Well, kind of. Scott reported Nash returned his phone call he made four days ago sometime on Monday afternoon providing suggesting that he intends to have a presence around the Lakers’ soon despite nursing continual back problems that will keep him out for the 2014-15 season.

“He did say on his message that he’s definitely going to come back and see everybody,” Scott said Tuesday before the Lakers (1-9) visited the Atlanta Hawks (5-4) at Philips Arena. “He just needed some time, which we all understood. But he didn’t give me a set time.”
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Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore valued multi-year deal over fondness for Lakers

Kent Bazemore spent only two months last season with the Lakers, averaging a career-high 13.1 points on 45.1 percent shooting. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kent Bazemore spent only two months last season with the Lakers, averaging a career-high 13.1 points on 45.1 percent shooting. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

ATLANTA — He often stayed up way past his bedtime watching Lakers star Kobe Brant put on a show. Kent Bazemore would then drift off to sleep dreaming someday he would wear the purple and gold uniform while playing alongside his favorite idol.

But all those years later, Bazemore discovered that nostalgia would not become as strong as other factors determining his NBA future. So as he mulled his free agency options this summer, Bazemore decided to sign with the Atlanta Hawks instead. The thought process strictly involved dollars and sense, his two-year guaranteed deal worth $6 million marking the first time in four NBA seasons he would have relative stability. Before, Bazemore had journeyman roles with the Golden State Warriors (2012-14) and Lakers (2014) without much security.

“Having a non guaranteed contract is the most stressful thing in the world, especially when January rolls around and that deadline comes up,” Bazemore said. “You start losing sleep. Being guaranteed is great. Now it’s just about working and trying to earn your stripes.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott holds extended film session just on defense

"Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott studies the action in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)"

“Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott studies the action in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)”

ATLANTA — The Lakers’ worst start in franchise history has looked so abysmal through three weeks that they have already resorted to something most teams have during a moment of crisis.

They held a meeting.

Granted, Lakers coach Byron Scott stressed the dialogue took place in what he called “a normal film session.” But the circumstances changed. In normal cases, Scott said his film sessions entail reviewing both offensive and defensive plays. On Monday night, Scott held a film session he described as “long” that solely entailed the Lakers’ defense, which has averaged a league-worst 112 points per game.

“The question to the guys was, ‘Are we asking you to do things that are impossible for you to do,’” Scott recalled. “‘Or are there things you have to think about too much? Because we’ll try to simplify everything as much as possible.’ The answer they gave was no. It’s not impossible and not difficult. When you say that, I’m anxious to see how we play tonight.”
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