NBA draft lottery: James Worthy addresses Kobe Bryant’s recovery, Lakers’ offseason and memories at No. 1 pick

Former Lakers star James Worthy, who is an analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, is concerned whether Kobe Bryant can adjust his game while recovering from his two major injuries. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Former Lakers star James Worthy, who is an analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, is concerned whether Kobe Bryant can adjust his game while recovering from his two major injuries. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Below is the second part of a recent interview I had with James Worthy, who will be the Lakers representative for the NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday in New York City. Worthy, who won three NBA titles with the Showtime Lakers, is currently an on-air analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, the Lakers’ flagship station.

How confident are you that Kobe Bryant can stay healthy and play effective after having two major injuries?

Worthy: Everything still surrounds Kobe. He’s still the franchise player and he will tell you he’s in uncharted territory in having two major injuries and if this will allow him to play in games. It’s going to be a test for him. He’s going to have to adjust his game and play below the rim. His role takes on another dimension. Or can he come back and surprise us all as he does and play like a 20 year old again. I’ve always said he’s not human. He and LeBron James are like aliens. It’ll be interesting to see what planet Kobe will be coming back from. He can do it.

But I remember when my knee was bad. I’m not comparing myself to Kobe Bryant by any means. But it’s tough. I didn’t have the mental fortitude that he has. I worked for it. But I don’t think I had the work discipline that he had , the work ethic in getting up at 5 in the morning and all of that kind of stuff. But it’s tough when you have to change your style of game. I remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar couldn’t push off his foot to throw down the skyhook. I remember Magic Johnson making the adjustment in being a total postup player in his last couple of years that he came back. Can Kobe make the adjustments? Can Kobe take on a role like that and still be the franchise player? We’ll have to wait and see.

What about Steve Nash?


Worthy:
He can bring a lot of coaching stability, especially on who they bring in. Any veteran like that, I look at Steve Nash like Jason Kidd. He’s kind of a role that he can play as a player coach. I think Steve could be healthy and move and be mobile. Defensively he’s always going to be an issue. But there are ways Steve can have an impact on the floor and particularly with the stability in the locker room and that kind of thing.
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NBA draft lottery: James Worthy believes Lakers should select Joel Embiid if available

John McCoy / Staff Photographer Former Laker James Worthy, left, shown with Kobe Bryant during a recent media day, will represent the team at today's NBA draft lottery.

John McCoy / Staff Photographer Former Laker James Worthy, left, shown with Kobe Bryant during a recent media day, will represent the team at today’s NBA draft lottery.

Below is a recent conversation I had with James Worthy, who will be the Lakers representative for the NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday in New York City. Worthy, who won three NBA titles with the Showtime Lakers, is currently an on-air analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, the Lakers’ flagship station.

If the Lakers are able to get a top pick, who should they draft?

Worthy:
I have not talked to [Lakers general manager] Mitch Kuphcak or to anybody else about what they’re looking for. But I love that kid out of Kansas, Joel Embiid, that guy is tough. You look at what the Lakers have been missing on defense – it’s points in the paint, transition buckets and no resistance. We had Dwight Howard help us out a little bit the other year. But this year was really a concern and was the major cause for us losing game. There were games we that we scored 125 points, but it didn’t matter because we gave up 80 points in the paint. To me, there is no comparison. He is a mean tough kid.

I played against Hakeem Olajuwon when he was a freshman in college. He wasn’t there yet and didn’t start, but Joel reminds me of a little bit of that. If you got physical with him, he responded. He’s talented and I like him. But there’s so many guys. People talk about Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle and Wiggins and Randle out of Kentucky. It’s a tough call considering the talent that is available.

How concerned are you about Embiid’s back injury?


Worthy:
“I’m not too familiar with it. I saw him in L.A. and think he is affiliated with the Wasserman group and he was working out and he looked pretty good. Anytime you have a back injury, I’m not sure the extent of it if it was a minor injury. These general managers and doctors don’t do anything without medical clearance. From what I saw him, he looked good. He has a big upside.”
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James Worthy to be Lakers’ NBA draft lottery representative

Former Lakers star James Worthy, who is an analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, is concerned whether Kobe Bryant can adjust his game while recovering from his torn Achilles tendon. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Former Lakers star James Worthy, who is an analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, will represent the Lakers at the NBA draft lottery on May 20 in New York City. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It turns out James Worthy’s contributions to the Lakers’ history will go beyond helping them win three NBA championships.

Worthy will also represent the Lakers at NBA draft lottery on May 20.

“We thought James would be a great choice to represent us,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “He’s meant a lot to our organization. He’s a Hall of Famer and he’s the last player we had that was our No. 1 pick. Hopefully that will be our next choice.”

The Lakers had considered sending president Jeanie Buss after representing the organization the last time it was in the lottery in 2005. The Lakers also thought of general manager Mitch Kupchak. But the Lakers decided on Worthy, who was the Lakers’ last top overall pick during the 1982 draft. Worthy is currently an analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, the Lakers’ broadcast partner.

The Lakers currently are slated to have the sixth pick of the NBA Draft on June 26. But they have a 6.3 percent chance of winning the top spot at the lottery in New York.

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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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James Worthy mixed on Dwight Howard, Lakers landing big free agent

Rarely have the Lakers ever suggested to wait until next year. After all, the franchise has collected 16 NBA championships, and usually expects to win another one both to surpass the Boston Celtic’s 17 and because the Lakers are used to hoisting up the Larry O’Brien trophy. But the Lakers have plenty of uncertainty this offseason. Kobe Bryant has continuously rehabbed on his left Achilles tendon, while Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are recovering from their respective hamstring and knee injuries. Dwight Howard left for Houston on his own, while Metta World Peace went to New York so the Lakers could save money. Skepticism remains on whether a full training camp and a crop of younger players more suited for his system will be enough in coach Mike D’Antoni leading the Lakers toward success.

So with few hardly predicting they will win the 2013 NBA championship, the Lakers are looking toward the 2014 offseason when they have a high amount of cap flexibility. Steve Nash and Robert Sacre remain the lone two players with guaranteed contracts after next season for a combined $10.5 million, giving the Lakers next July plenty of money to pursue high-level players that could become free agents, including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Randolph, Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay and Luol Deng.

James Worthy, who won three NBA titles with the Lakers during the Showtime Era and is an analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, shared mixed feelings on whether the Lakers can attract another top-level free agent.

“I personally think L.A. is a desirable place to play,” Worthy said in an interview with this newspaper. “But I don’t know what the rest of the league and other players are thinking. Dwight Howard just came here for one year and then left for Houston, Texas.”

Howard could’ve signed with the Lakers for a five-year deal worth $118 million, as opposed to the four-year deal worth $87.6 million he will earn with the Houston Rockets. What did Worthy make of Howard’s departure?

“Dwight is a little bit too aloof for me to be that dominant player,” Worthy said. “I don’t think he can be a LeBron James, a Kobe Bryant or a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or a Hakeem Olajuwon. He’s a good player and a very effective defensive player. But I just don’t think he was ready to handle the pressure.”

Read more in part two of my interview with Worthy, who talks on a wide-range of topics, including Howard, the Lakers’ 2014 offseason and expectations for Pau Gasol and Steve Nash.
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James Worthy’s challenge for Kobe Bryant: “Can he step back?”

With less than two weeks before Lakers training camp begins, I had an extensive conversation with famed Laker and Time Warner Cable SportsNet analyst James Worthy on the state of the team.

Below is part one of my interview with Worthy focusing on Kobe Bryant and why Worthy believes the Lakers will finish in fifth place in the Western Conference.

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