NBA, AEG to make “major announcement,” likely on Staples Center hosting All-Star game for 2018

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will be at the Lakers' game on Tuesday against Memphis at Staples Center to make what the NBA called a "major announcement." AP Photo/Kathy Willens

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will be at the Lakers’ game on Tuesday against Memphis at Staples Center to make what the NBA called a “major announcement.” AP Photo/Kathy Willens

The NBA appears likely to attract buzz in the next few years at Staples Center. The variables could go beyond how well the Lakers rebuild or if the Clippers make a deep playoff push.

The NBA and AEG plan to make what they call “major announcement” at Staples Center on Tuesday prior to when the Lakers (14-55) host the Memphis Grizzlies (40-30).

What the “major announcement” will entail could not be immediately confirmed. But it appears likely the news will entail Staples Center planning to host the NBA All-Star game in 2018. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, AEG President and CEO Dan Beckerman, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission President Kathy Schloessman will attend a pre-game press conference.

This would mark the third time Staples Center has hosted the NBA All-Star game since opening in 1999, including in 2004 and 2011.

Former Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal collected his second of third All-Star MVP trophies in 2004, while Lakers guard Kobe Bryant secured his fourth and final All-Star MVP honor in 2011. NBA All-Star weekend in 2011 also featured the Lakers unveiling Jerry West’s statue outside Staples Center as well as Clippers forward Blake Griffin winning the Dunk Contest.

The NBA also hosted All-Star games in Los Angeles both at the L.A. Sports Arena (1963) and at the Forum (1972, 1983).

USA Today’s Sam Amick first reported last month the initial discussions the NBA had about Staples Center hosting the All-Star game in 2018.

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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’ D’Angelo Russell says it’s “great to hear” he’ll close out games regardless of play

Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell was happy to hear he will close out games for the rest of the season.  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell was happy to hear he will close out games for the rest of the season. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

The towel draped around D’Angelo Russell’s head as he sat on the bench and watched his teammates close out games. The images hardly looked as fun as one of Russell’s dazzling passes or shots.

But with the Lakers’ starting lineup laboring through slow starts, coach Byron Scott leaned on his reserves and their superior collective play. So, Russell stressed he “wasn’t aggravated,” mindful that those reserves helped the Lakers climb out of double-digit deficits. But Russell sounded pleased with the news that Scott will feature him late in games, including when the Lakers (14-55) host the Memphis Grizzlies (40-30) on Tuesday at Staples Center.

“That’s great,” Russell said after practice on Monday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “It’s a great thing to hear.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott calls it “50-50” for Kobe Bryant to play vs. Memphis

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is considered "50-50" to play on Tuesday vs. the Memphis Grizzlies  (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is considered “50-50” to play on Tuesday vs. the Memphis Grizzlies
(Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

It has become the most pressing question among reporters. Same with Lakers fans who want to buy tickets.

Will Kobe Bryant play?

“I don’t mind it,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I just don’t have answers. I wish I did. Sometimes I don’t know until up to game time.”

That includes when the Lakers (14-55) host the Memphis Grizzlies (40-30) on Tuesday at Staples Center. Scott considered the chances of Bryant’s return at “50-50” after he missed six of the previous 10 games because of his sore right shoulder. Scott said he has not determined if he would start Larry Nance Jr. at the small forward spot if Bryant cannot play. But consider Scott’s odds as meaning very little.

Scott said he had not talked with Bryant on Monday. Scott also reported a “75-25” chance Bryant would play last Friday against Phoenix that morning, only for Bryant to tell him otherwise in the afternoon.

“You got good math. It’s a lot worse than 75-25,” Scott said to a reporter, laughing. “Obviously the 50-50, you don’t feel good about that when you feel good about 75-25.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott undecided on Kobe Bryant’s workload in back-to-backs this week

Lakers coach Byron Scott remains undecided if Kobe Bryant will play on a pair of back-to-backs this week. (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

Lakers coach Byron Scott remains undecided if Kobe Bryant will play on a pair of back-to-backs this week. (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

Kobe Bryant’s goal seems pretty simple.

The Lakers’ 37-year-old star wants to play in as many of the 13 remaining games as sore right shoulder will allow him. But his track record has shown that Bryant will not miss any final appearances in road venues or any home games against marquee teams or opponents.

That left Lakers coach Byron Scott still optimistic Bryant could play both when the Lakers (14-55) host the Memphis Grizzlies (40-30) on Tuesday at Staples Center and in Wednesday’s contest against Phoenix. But after Bryant missing six of the past 10 games because of his injury, the Lakers are still listing him as questionable.

“I hope he feels a whole lot better. That’s the biggest thing,” Scott said. “As much as I understand his priorities in he feels he needs to play, I still feel he has to take care of himself. I’m looking out for him 10 years down the line. I don’t want him to get some permanent damage in his shoulder where they have to do something reconstructive or crazy. That’s the only thing I’m saying to him right now.”

Scott plans to have more conversations with Bryant on Monday and likely on Tuesday leading up to game time.

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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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Byron Scott considering starting Larry Nance Jr. at small forward

Lakers coach Byron Scott has considered starting Larry Nance Jr. at times at the small forward position  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Lakers coach Byron Scott has considered starting Larry Nance Jr. at times at the small forward position (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

His first NBA season has taken Larry Nance Jr. seemingly everywhere.

He has defied gravity with jaw-dropping dunks. He has shed his reputation as an energy player into a versatile one. He has played seamlessly in any role asked of him as a starter and reserve.

But Nance will experience something that will soon test the bandwidth on how much and how fast he can grow. Lakers coach Byron Scott has considered starting Nance at the small forward position despite his inexperience both at the spot and in taking 3-pointers.

“I expect him to struggle with it,” Scott said.

And yet Scott could make that lineup change whenever Kobe Bryant sits out with shoulder issues for a few simple reasons.

The Lakers do not expect rookie forward Anthony Brown to return this season despite receiving clearance to have his boot removed from his injured right foot. Lakers forward Nick Young has received healthy scratches for four consecutive games after averaging 7.3 points on 33.9 percent shooting. Lakers forward Metta World Peace appeared limited in his last two starts, posting a combined eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. And Scott believes Nance’s presence at the small forward spot could complement Julius Randle at the power forward position.

“This is a new position he’s learning, but the one thing with Larry is when you put him in that position, he’ll think a lot right now,” Scott said. “In his normal position, he just plays. The thing I expect for him is to learn the position as much as possible. But I still expect the energy.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott to feature young core late in games “no matter what”

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott plans to feature his young players to close games "no matter what."  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott plans to feature his young players to close games “no matter what.”
(Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Through the next generation, the Lakers have high hopes that D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson will deliver star power and championships.

But for the past week, those three players sat in the fourth quarter amid Byron Scott’s hope they would learn after laboring through sluggish starts.

Until now.

Scott said those three will close out games “no matter what,” including when the Lakers (14-55) host the Memphis Grizzlies (40-30) on Tuesday at Staples Center.

“They have to figure it out,” Scott said on Sunday after practice. “My goal for the next 13 games is to allow them to be out there and play through the mistakes.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott faults starting unit for lacking trust

Lakers head coach Byron Scott, criticized the first unit for lacking trust. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Lakers head coach Byron Scott, criticized the first unit for lacking trust.
(Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

The shots endlessly hit off the mark. Players appeared more intent to go one-on-one than pass the ball. They moved nearly in slow motion.

Later on, the points piled up nearly by the basket. Players made crisp passes and hit the open man. They ran at a swift pace as if someone hit the fast forward button.

Think the Lakers’ have split identities? They do. But it hardly resembles a Jekyll-and-Hyde persona. Instead, the Lakers showed in their 93-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday at Staples Center how their starting and reserve units have completely opposite personalities.

“Lack of trust with each other to me is evident,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of his starting unit. “They don’t cover for each other.”

And the reserves?

“Maximum effort from those guys and they will play the right way,” Scott said. “They’ll try to get the ball to each other and play together. They’ll communicate with each other.”

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant to sit out vs. Phoenix

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant plans to play in Friday's game vs Phoenix. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will sit out of Friday’s game vs Phoenix.
(Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

So much for Kobe Bryant’s optimism on Friday morning.

After the Lakers’ star reported his intentions to play in Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center, Bryant will instead sit out because of continuous soreness in his right shoulder.

“I don’t know what changed,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “It was good this morning. This afternoon it didn’t feel good.”

This will mark the sixth game Bryant has missed in the previous 10 contests, all of which have been at home. Bryant’s participation has also followed a continual pattern in which he will appear in road games and home games against marquee players or opponents.

Yet, Scott still offered some sympathy, arguing, “When he tells me he can’t go, I know he’s hurting.”

“He has to think about himself more than anything and his future after basketball,” Scott said. “He doesn’t want to do damage to his shoulder so much that in 5-10 years from now he has to go get surgery again.”

Scott quickly revealed that Lakers forward Metta World Peace will start in Bryant’s place for the second consecutive game. But Scott sounded less sure if Bryant will sit on the bench, let alone attend the game.

“If I was thinking about it at that particular time, I probably would have said, ‘KB come to the game and support the guys. But I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking more about him. I didn’t get to that discussion.'”

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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 plans to play vs. Phoenix

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant plans to play in Friday's game vs Phoenix. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant plans to play in Friday’s game vs Phoenix.
(Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

After resting for five days to treat his sore right shoulder, Kobe Bryant offered six encouraging words to coach Byron Scott. It all related to Bryant’s availability when the Lakers (14-54) host the Phoenix Suns (18-50) on Friday at Staples Center.

“‘I think I can play tonight,'” Scott reported Bryant telling him. “As of right now, I think he’ll play.”

Scott still likened the odds of Bryant playing at “75-25,” a slight increase from the 50-50 chances Scott has given his star player in recent days. But Scott still held out enough optimism that Bryant will play between 25 to 28 minutes. Metta World Peace and Larry Nance Jr. will play minutes at the backup small forward spot.

Bryant has sat in five of the past nine games, including Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center. Meanwhile, Lakers reserve forward Brandon Bass will also return after a one-game absence because of a corneal abrasion in his right eye.

But Bass received clearance after having an eye exam on Friday morning. Then, Bass learned he would not have to wear protective goggles as Lakers trainer Gary Vitti had hoped. Bass wore goggles during Thursday’s practice only to destroy them a few plays into a scrimmage because of discomfort.

“After he broke the one pair, he didn’t put the other one on,” Scott said of Bass. “I have a feeling tonight he’ll play without goggles.”

RELATED:

Lakers’ Byron Scott downplays NBA lottery implications vs. Phoenix

Lakers’ Brandon Bass to have eye appointment on Friday morning

Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson experiencing rare hiccups

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’ Byron Scott downplays NBA lottery implications vs. Phoenix

Lakers coach Byron Scott downplayed NBA lottery implications. HANS GUTKNECHT — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Lakers coach Byron Scott downplayed NBA lottery implications. HANS GUTKNECHT — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Lakers fans still cheer over every basket. They yell in approval when the purple and gold streamers fall out of the Staples Center rafters to signify a rare victory. The volume level rises even more when the Lakers secure free tacos by holding opponents under 100 points.

But there remains a large segment of fans on the airwaves, on Twitter and on Instagram that feel much different when the Lakers win a basketball game. They fret over the team’s fortunes in the NBA draft lottery that will take place on May 17. Those anxieties will likely heighten when the Lakers (14-54) host the Phoenix Suns (18-49) on Friday at Staples Center.

And yet….

“We’re not in a weird position,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “We play Phoenix and we’re trying to win the game.”
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