Lakers’ Nick Young advancing to weight lifting exercises

SoCal native Nick Young is expected to opt out of his contract with the Lakers but would very much like to return to the team with better deal. Rick Bowmer — The Associated Press

SoCal native Nick Young is expected to opt out of his contract with the Lakers but would very much like to return to the team with better deal. Rick Bowmer — The Associated Press

The image circulated on Sunday morning, Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco showing in a tweet that forward Nick Young began weight- lifting exercises since nursing a swollen left knee that has kept him sidelined for the past 11 games in the past month.

Young will stay sidelined at least through this week, including when the Lakers (17-50) host the Philadelphia 76ers (17-52) on Sunday at Staples Center. Lakers coach Byron Scott also plans to touch base with trainer Gary Vitti sometime tonight on the next step for Young, who has not performed any basketball-related exercises. Scott said he noticed Young working out with DiFrancesco both on Saturday and Sunday.

“From Gary’s standpoint, it’s getting better,” Scott said. “But it’s one of those things where he still has pain. But it’s not as bad. The swelling has gone down to the point where you can barely see it. But there’s something in there going on.”

Last week, Scott sounded skeptical Young would travel for the Lakers’ eight-game, five-game trip with stops in Oklahoma City (Tuesday), Minnesota (Wednesday), Toronto (Friday), Brooklyn (Sunday) and Philadelphia (Monday). But Scott suggested it seems more possible Young could travel with the team, something that might yield more clarity when Scott speaks with Vitti.

“My thing is more of when he’s on the road with us, can he get the same type of treatment?” Scott said. “Or is it better to leave him here where we have [the Lakers’ practice facility] and Kerlan Jobe [Orthopaedic Clinic] at our disposal and he can get physical therapy there, too. Whatever is best for him right now is the best way to go.”

Scott laughed at the suggestion that he would prefer Young to stay at home considering the Lakers’ eccentric forward has occasionally annoyed him this season. It has not helped that coincided with Young averaging 13.4 points on a career-low 36.6 percent shooting.

“Nah, I don’t mind seeing him on the road trip,” Scott said, chuckling. “I like making him travel just to get him away from being here in LA for a week with nothing else to do.”

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Lakers’ Jeremy Lin to play vs. Sixers

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)

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)

Jeremy Lin will assume his backup point guard role when the Lakers (45-25) host the Philadelphia 76ers (17-52) on Sunday at Staples Center after nursing back spasms in recent days. But Lakers coach Byron Scott said Lin went through Sunday’s morning shootaround without any issues.

Lin reported that his back went out of alignment after colliding into an unnamed teammate last Wednesday in practice, leading to endless treatment moments before the Lakers’ loss last Thursday to Utah. Lin only finished with two points on 1-of-8 shooting and two turnovers, but he impressed the Lakers with three steals, four assists and plenty of hustle and toughness throughout the game.

Lin’s workload in Friday’s practice stayed confined to stationary shooting. Lin then completed all of Saturday’s practice. That concluded with a series of sprints for the Lakers’ reserves, including Lin, because they lost in a scrimmage.

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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 gush about Steve Nash’s career and defends him amid criticism

"The Lakers' Steve Nash drives the baseline on the Wizards' Andre Miller, Friday, March 21, 2014, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)"

“The Lakers’ Steve Nash drives the baseline on the Wizards’ Andre Miller, Friday, March 21, 2014, at Staples Center. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)”

The tributes gushed out as quickly as Steve Nash could lead his team on a fast-break.

Lakers coach Byron Scott called Nash a “modern-day Bob Cousy” after collecting two NBA MVP awards, climbing to third place on the league’s all-time assists list and revolutionizing the NBA. Lakers backup center and fellow Canadian Robert Sacre noted how Nash had “always been that guy that Canadians have always looked up to” after he became the first NBA star from that country. Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson recalled idolizing Nash growing up for “making passes people couldn’t see.”

Yet, with Nash officially announcing his retirement from a storied 19-year NBA career, it also closes the chapter surrounding a dark time in the Lakers’ history.

The Lakers acquired Nash from the Phoenix Suns in 2012 in a sign-and-trade worth $28 million for three years, the team willing to trade two first and second-round draft picks for the chance at championship glory.

But Nash played in only 65 of a possible 164 regular-season games amid overlapping nerve issues with his left left, back and hamstrings, ailments that kept him out for the entire 2014-15 campaign. Nash also averaged 11.4 points and 6.4 assists through two seasons, a stark drop from his career averages of 14.4 points and 8.5 assists. Perhaps his only hightlight entailed Nash’s last assist in April, 2014 against Houston allowing him to surpass Mark Jackson on the NBA’s all-time assists list.

Yet, Scott advised Lakers fans to “take a look at everything he’s done over his career and judge him that way, not by what ended up happening here.”

“Obviously it didn’t work out the way he planned or the way he wanted or the way the organization wanted,” Scott said. “But fans also have to look at the fact that the guy did everything possible to get on the court. I don’t think they take that into consideration that he’s hurt and he has some physical problems. But he did everything possible to get on the court.”

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Lakers’ Steve Nash officially announces retirement

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)

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)

The man has not played in a competitive basketball in over five months. But it wasn’t until now that Lakers 41-year-old guard Steve Nash officially announced his retirement, capping a storied 19-year NBA career that entailed two NBA MVP awards, a third-place standing on the league’s all-time assists list and an assured place in the Hall of Fame.

“The greatest gift has been to be completely immersed in my passion and striving for something I loved so much — visualizing a ladder, climbing up to my heroes,” Nash wrote in an essay on The Players Tribune. The obsession became my best friend. I talked to her, cherished her, fought with her and got knocked on my ass by her.”

The latter experiences happened plenty of times during his three years with the Lakers.

He fractured his left leg in only his second game as a Laker on Oct. 2012, an injury that first sidelined him for 24 games before spiraling into never-ending issues with the nerves surrounding his back and hamstrings. After playing in only 15 games in the 2013-14 season because of those ailments, Nash returned for the 2015 training camp only to appear in two exhibition games before the Lakers shut him down for the rest of the season. Add it all up, and Nash played in only 65 of a possible 164 regular-season games the past two seasons with the Lakers.

“When I signed with the Lakers, I had big dreams of lifting the fans up and lighting this city on fire,” said Nash, whom the Lakers acquired in a sign-and-trade for three years worth $27 million after sending two first and second-round draft picks to the Phoenix Suns. “I turned down more lucrative offers to come to L.A. because I wanted to be in the “fire,” and play for high risk and high reward in my last NBA chapter. In my second game here, I broke my leg and nothing was the same.”

Nash hardly built the same equity he enjoyed with the Phoenix Suns (1996-1998, 2004-12) and Dallas Mavericks (1998-2004), and the reasons go beyond his injuries. He caught some criticism for admitting in a Grantland documentary last season, “I’m not going to retire because I want the money.” Nash, who was owed $9.7 million this season, was mostly absent from the team this season. He did not mentor rookie guard Jordan Clarkson until February, 2015.

This concerned some in the organization. But Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Byron Scott publicly supported and deferred to Nash on how he spends his time.

“Last spring, when I returned to the court, I was given a standing ovation at Staples Center,” Nash wrote. “It was a dark time in my career and that gesture will be one of my best memories. There’s been a lot of negativity online, but in my nearly three years in L.A., I’ve never met anyone who didn’t show me anything but love and support for my efforts. There’s a lot of class in Lakerland, and the organization and staff have given me unwavering support.”

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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’ Jabari Brown feels “blessed” to have second 10-day contract

He vowed he would treat every play as if it were his last. He would show he would play aggressive on every possession. He basically would not leave any stone unturned.

Yet, Lakers guard Jabari Brown attended practice on Friday doing absolutely nothing. Not by choice, though. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak informed Brown on Thursday night the Lakers would sign him to a second 10-day contract on Saturday. Then, Scott could play both when the Lakers (19-50) play on Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers (16-52) at Staples Center and for their entire five-game trip next week with stops in Oklahoma City (Tuesday), Minnesota (Wednesday), Toronto (Friday), Brooklyn (March 29) and Philadelphia (March 30).

All of which Brown without anything to do at the Lakers’ practice facility for one day.

“Just watching,” Brown said, smiling. “It’s just one day. I don’t know the exact rules, and I don’t want to break any.”

Brown will gladly follow those rules, saying he feels “blessed” the Lakers granted him a second 10-day contract after averaging seven points on 57.9 percent shooting in 20 minutes per night through four games. That marked a sharp improvement from Lakers training camp when he posted a combined five points, two rebounds and an assist in 22 minutes through four exhibition games.

“I felt like I played within myself and the team concept,” Brown said. “I felt like I gave a lot of energy on both ends of the court. I feel like I can continue to improve with some of the turnovers and stuff like that, just being strong with the ball and getting into the paint. I feel like I can always improve.”

Though he found it an easy transition after averaging a league-leading 24.4 points per game with the Lakers’ Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders, Brown said the team’s offense mostly centered on catch-and-shoot opportunities and isolation plays. Lakers coach Byron Scott hopes Brown can also thrive in the pick-and-roll game.

Brown’s strong play coincides with the Lakers nursing an injury to Nick Young, who has missed the past 11 games because of a swollen left knee. The Lakers ruled him out for at least another week after a CT scan showed a small fracture in his left knee cap.

Once Brown’s 10-day contract worth around $29,000 expires, the Lakers would either have to sign him for the remainder of the season or release him as a free agent.

“You just have to play with a motor,” Scott said. “Playing hard is a skill. You have to do it, especially when you’re trying to make something happen. It’s an extra incentive.”

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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’ Jeremy Lin says he will feel “100 percent” by Saturday

The Los Angeles Lakers introduce newest player Jeremy Lin to the gathered media at the Toyota Sports Center training facility in El Segundo, Calif., on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze)

The Los Angeles Lakers introduce newest player Jeremy Lin to the gathered media at the Toyota Sports Center training facility in El Segundo, Calif., on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze)

Lakers guard Jeremy Lin slowly walked off the court, showing deliberate movement with each step he took.

He just completed a set of stationary shooting exercises in Friday’s practice a day after laboring through back spasms in the Lakers’ loss on Thursday to the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.

“I’m not moving fast, but I don’t need to,” Lin said. “I’ll be 100 percent tomorrow for sure.”

Then, Lin plans to complete a full practice before playing when the Lakers (17-50) host the Philadelphia 76ers (16-52) on Sunday at Staples Center.

“I knew it was going to feel like this,” said Lin, whose back spasms stemmed from running into one of the Lakers’ frontcourt players on a screen in Wednesday’s practice. “This wasn’t bad. Yesterday was a bad day. Once we fixed the problem yesterday, it was a matter of calming it down. I was a little off.”

Lin posted only two points on 1-of-8 shooting and two turnovers against Utah. But he offset his shooting struggles with four assists and three steals.

“It’s just about finishing strong,” said Lin, who will become an unrestricted free agent. “I love playing the game of basketball. During the offseason, I miss it a lot. So I want to cherish these last 15 [games].”

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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’ Byron Scott praises Jeremy Lin for playing through back spasms in loss to Jazz

Over and over again, Jeremy Lin kept going through his pre-game routine that entailed shooting endless free throws and jump shots. Once the Lakers took the court, Lin eventually entered the game and tried to fulfill the usual job description by attacking the basket, setting up others and making defensive stops.

If not for Lin’s two-point effort on 1-of-8 shooting in the Lakers’ 80-73 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday at Staples Center, it appeared the Lakers’ guard looked completely normal.

Except he wasn’t at all. Lin suffered back spasms that he said stemmed from what he called an undisclosed “bad hit” in Wednesday’s practice. Lin reported that collision caused his back alignment to move “probably six to eight inches to the side.” That left Lin and the Lakers’ training staff furiously spending Wednesday’s practice, Thursday’s morning shootaround and Thursday’s pre-game warmups trying to fix his back.

Once it was all done, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti was overheard praising Lin for fighting through his injury. Lin praised the Lakers’ training staff in return. Lin reiterated that afterwards when he said the Lakers’ training staff “did an unbelievable job.”

“You have to give him credit,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I didn’t think he was going to play at all. He wanted to give it a go.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott wants to keep Jabari Brown for a second 10-day contract

"Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) "

“Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) “

Both excitement and anxiety may creep into Jabari Brown’s mind when the Lakers (13-49) host the Utah Jazz (30-36) tonight at Staples Center, which will mark the last game he will play in his first 10-day contract.

But when Lakers coach Byron Scott plans to meet with general manager Mitch Kupchak after tonight’s game, it seems clear Brown will have at least one vocal supporter.

“Right now, I’d like to keep him for another 10 days and see how it goes,” Scott said. “I think he’s improved from what we had in the summer time to this time right now.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott does not expect Nick Young to travel for next week’s trip

The LakersþÄô Nick Young #0 reacts during their NBA game against the Grizzlies at the Staples Center Friday, January 2, 2015. The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 109-106. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The LakersþÄô Nick Young #0 reacts during their NBA game against the Grizzlies at the Staples Center Friday, January 2, 2015. The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 109-106. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The Lakers will have more answers on Nick Young’s health when they plan to reevaluate the progress surrounding a small fracture in his left knee. But Lakers coach Byron Scott already seems prepared for a possible scenario that will entail Young staying sidelined for at least two more weeks.

“I don’t see him going on this [upcoming] trip,” Scott said. “He can do his therapy here.”

If Scott proves out clairvoyant, that means Young will sit out for at least seven more games after missing the previous 11 because of his current injury. The Lakers (17-49) have a two-game homestand this week against Utah (tonight) and Philadelphia (Sunday) before going on an eight-day, five-day trip. The stops include Oklahoma City (March 24), Minnesota (March 25), Toronto (March 27), Brooklyn (March 29) and Philadelphia (March 30).

That would leave Young with only nine games to play through two weeks in April. Young has averaged 13.4 points on a career-low 36.6 percent shooting.

“Each week it goes by, there’s less and less a chance of him playing,” Scott said. “We have to wait and see.”

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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 out at least another week with small fracture in left knee

"The Lakers’ Nick Young #0 drives to the hoop as the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic #9 defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 9, 2015.  (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)"

“The Lakers’ Nick Young #0 drives to the hoop as the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic #9 defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 9, 2015. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)”

First, the good news: Nick Young’s swollen left knee will not require surgery as some in the organization feared, a procedure that would surely sideline him for the remainder of the Lakers’ 16 regular-season games. Now, the bad news: A CT scan shows that Young has a small fracture in his left kneecap, which will sideline him for at least another week until the Lakers reevalaute him.

According to the Lakers’ timetable, Young would stay out for the Lakers’ homestand this week against Utah (Thursday) and Philadelphia (Sunday). Young would miss at least the beginning of the Lakers’ week-long trip that begins next week in Oklahoma City (Tuesday). Yet, Lakers coach Byron Scott estimated Young may need at least a week just to catch up on his conditioning after missing the previous 10 games because of his knee injury.

Young has averaged 13.4 points on a career-low 36.6 shooting percent clip, a mark that dipped in January (32.2 percent) and February (32.4 percent).

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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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