Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak accepts ALS Ice Bucket challenge

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has an announcement to make. No, Kupchak did not just make a trade. Nor did he finalize the last signings of Byron Scott’s coaching staff.

Kupchak heeded the call from Dodgers president and chief executive Stan Kasten to join in on the ALS ice bucket challenge. In an initiative that has gone viral, the challenge entails getting drenched with a bucket of ice and raising both awareness and funds to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Kupchak, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are the main members of the Lakers that have participated in the campaign. In doing so, Kupchak passed the baton off to executive Jim Buss, actor and long-time Lakers fan Jack Nicholson and former Lakers general manager and current Golden State Warriors advisor Jerry West.

As the video above shows, Kupchak clearly looks uncomfortable with the frigid temperatures. But he enthusiastically went through the discomfort all for a good cause.

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Jeremy Lin to have wax figure at Madame Tussauds San Francisco

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)

It turns out Jeremy Lin has something in Kobe Bryant beyond playing for the same team (Lakers) or sharing the same birthday (this Saturday). By Thursday, both will have the honor in having wax figures depicting their likeness at the Maddame Tussauds, which showcases lifelike wax images of celebrities, athletes and politicians.

Bryant is already immortalized at the Los Angeles branch. On Thursday, Lin will have his unveiled at the San Francisco branch in Fisherman’s Wharf, which is fairly close to where he grew up in Palo Alto. Lin, who was born in Torrance, became the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA. That background coupled with the so-called “Linsanity” that featured his breakout season three years ago with the New York Knicks has contributed toward Lin having a huge following in Asian countries.

The Lakers acquired Lin this summer from the Houston Rockets, who also gave up a first and second round pick to clear cap space in their unsuccessful pursuit toward Chris Bosh. Though Lin fought inconsistency last season, the Lakers found promise in his statistical output in points (12.5), shooting percentage (a career-high 44.6%) and assists (4.1). They believe such talent could provide the Lakers some reinforcements for Steve Nash, who played in only 15 games last season because of persisting back injuries.

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Photo gallery of Byron Scott talking to Compton Centennial High students

"Lakers coach Byron Scott talks to students as he announced his participation as a mentor in Centennial High School’s Male Academy in Compton, CA. Tuesday August 19, 2014. The academy is a intervention program for the school’s ninth and tenth grade male students. Throughout the school year, Scott will visit the students to mentor as well as participate in motivational discussions. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)"

“Lakers coach Byron Scott talks to students as he announced his participation as a mentor in Centennial High School’s Male Academy in Compton, CA. Tuesday August 19, 2014. The academy is a intervention program for the school’s ninth and tenth grade male students. Throughout the school year, Scott will visit the students to mentor as well as participate in motivational discussions. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)”

You read about Lakers coach Byron Scott talking on Tuesday to students at Compton Centennial High as part of the school’s Male Academy program. You read about Scott saying that outside of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ starting positions remains “up for grabs” during next month’s training camp. You read about Scott saying he hopes to have his coaching staff finalized by the end of this week.

But pictures always tell a 1,000 words. And in the case of LANG’s photo gallery of Scott’s appearance Tuesday at Compton Centennial High, plenty of images tell various stories.

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NBA compiles Lakers’ top 10 plays of 2013-14 season

Pick a moment. Any moment. Kobe Bryant’s pained expressions as he endlessly sat on the sideline. The Lakers’ double-digit blowouts. The team’s training room that continuously became more crowded by the day. The fan disenchantment toward Mike D’Antoni, who elicited mixed support among his post players and role players despite fielding an injury-ravaged lineup.

Hardly, any of these images would become mistaken for such iconic Laker memories filled with championship glory. Instead, they partly explain why the Lakers finished last season with their worst record in LA. franchise history. Yet, the NBA’s Web site still compiled a list of the Lakers’ top 10 plays of the 2013-14 season, providing some rare good moments during an otherwise sour year.

You can see Nick Young making acrobatic shots. You can see Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson shows bursts of athleticism. You can see Jodie Meeks’ prolific scoring and endless hustle that ensured a career-high in points (15.7), shooting percentage (46.3%) and minutes played (33.2). You can see Ryan Kelly becoming a pleasant surprise as a second-round rookie.

But all of those moments cannot erase the reality that the Lakers’ 2013-14 season became mostly difficult to watch. It also does not camouflage the uncertainty that awaits ahead on the Lakers’ rebuilding process.

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Byron Scott says Kobe Bryant only definitive player to have starting spot

Byron Scott stepped foot at Compton Centennial High on Tuesday, eager to stress to the 400 freshmen and sophomores the need to prioritize education than over striving to become a professional athlete. But it turns out Scott needed to provide more life lessons.

Case in point, one student asked Scott if Kobe Bryant will start this season after playing only six games last year because of overlapping injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee.

“Really?” Scott said in an incredulous tone. “You didn’t really ask me that question, did you? Seriously.”

But the student did. Apparently, Bryant’s five NBA championships, fourth place standing on the all-time scoring list, two-year, $48.5 million extension, and his strong relationship with Scott still put doubt on if the Lakers’ star player will actually start. But entering a season in which the Lakers are only a year removed from cementing their worst record in L.A. franchise history, Scott suggested he will face plenty of unanswered questions in training camp surrounding his depth chart.

“We got one Hall of Famer. Really, two. Steve Nash is another guy, but we have to see if Steve is going to be healthy,” Scott said, referring to Nash’s back issues that limited him last season to 15 games. “We’re obviously talking about Kobe Bryant. Other than that, all the other starting spots are up for grabs.”

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Byron Scott hopes to have coaching staff finalized by end of week

The busy four months that entailed countless job interviews and subsequent waiting has since passed for Byron Scott. Ever since the Lakers named as their next head coach this weeks ago, his schedule has since accelerated into overdrive.

Scott’s itinerary has mostly entailed putting together his coaching staff. He confirmed that veteran assistant Jim Eyen and player development coach Mark Madsen will stay on his staff, but he said the rest of his assistants will be finalized “hopefully by the end of this week.”

“I want to get everybody in by next week so we can start meeting and talk about what we’re going to do in training camp,” Scott said Tuesday at Compton Centennial High, where he addressed a group of 400 freshmen and sophomores as part of the school’s male academy intervention program. “I want to get guys on the floor to show what I want to do offensively as well. I want to get on the floor. I don’t want to just write it on paper. I want guys to be on the floor so we can actually go through offensively what we’re going to do and what we’re going to do on the defensive end as well. Hopefully we’ll be in high gear.”

Scott declined to say which other candidates will join his staff. But it’s widely assumed from those in the league that his son, Thomas, will serve a role after coaching with the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ Development League affiliate. Johnny Davis and player development coach Larry Lewis are also both under contract with the Lakers.

Scott also reported talking frequently with Kobe Bryant.

“I’m anxious. I’m excited. I’m jumping up and down and waiting for this thing to get going,” Scott said. “I’m talking to Kobe every few days, how he’s working out and how the guys he’s been working out with are doing. That, to me, is exciting. He’s showing the leadership and mentorship himself in getting all the young ones with him and getting together for training camp.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Mark Madsen expected to stay on Byron Scott’s coaching staff

Lakers coach Byron Scott is finalizing his coaching staff. AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Lakers coach Byron Scott is finalizing his coaching staff. AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

There appears to be some clarity on how Byron Scott will fill out his coaching staff.

Mark Madsen is expected to stay, according to league sources, after spending the past year as a player development coach for former Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni and an associate head coach with the team’s Las Vegas Summer League team. Madsen also played a heavy role with the Lakers’ drafting efforts, attending both the NBA pre-draft combine and participating in various draft workouts. Madsen also had played nine years in the NBA and was on the Lakers’ 2001 and 2002 championship teams. It is not currently clear what Madsen’s title will be under Scott.

Scott is also expected to add veteran assistant Jim Eyen to his staff, according to league sources. Eyen has spent 23 years as an NBA assistant coach in various capacities, most recently with the Sacramento Kings (2009-2013). Such stops also included the Lakers (1989-92), Clippers (1988-89, 2003-09), Milwaukee Bucks (1992-96) and Portland Trail Blazers (1997-2001). Eyen also had scouting jobs with the New York Knicks (1996-97, 2003), was an assistant coach at University of California at Santa Barbara (1984-88) and served as a consultant for professional teams in the Netherlands, Germany and Japan. Eyen is also the son-in-law of Bill Bertka, the Lakers’ current special assistant and basketball consultant to general manager Mitch Kupchak.

ESPN Los Angeles first reported the Lakers’ likelihood to add Eyen to Scott’s staff.

Scott will likely have four people on his coaching staff. Possibilities include Lakers assistant Johnny Davis and player development coach Larry Lewis, both of whom are still under contract. It is widely expected that Scott’s son, Thomas, will join his staff after coaching with the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ Development League affiliate.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Kobe Bryant accepts ALS ice bucket challenge

It turns out Kobe Bryant found another purpose for an ice bath beyond using it to heal his aching body after a grueling workout. The country has become swept in efforts from the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association to raise funds for treating what’s known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” And Bryant wasted little time in following through on challenges from former teammate and Knicks coach Derek Fisher, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and ESPN financial reporter Darren Rovell in joining the cause.

Bryant carried the mantle in a unique way. Plenty of participants both famous and anonymous have had ice buckets poured over their head for the sake of helping a campaign that has already generated a reported $13.3 million in donations since July 29. Already taking an ice bath, Bryant ducked his head into the frigid water after nominating soccer player Sydney Leroux, Nike CEO Mark Parker and Element founder Johnny Schillereff.

Either way, the action showed Bryant’s efficient ability both to mix in his workout routine while handing out a nice assist to charity.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Which Lakers’ role player will most flourish under Byron Scott?

Lakers introduce newest player Jeremy Lin to the gathered media at the Toyota Sports Center training facility in El Segundo.   Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze/ 07/24/14"

Lakers introduce newest player Jeremy Lin to the gathered media at the Toyota Sports Center training facility in El Segundo. Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze/ 07/24/14″

For once, the Lakers have a coach that won’t cause the fanbase at least initially to yell “We want Phil” chants throughout Staples Center. For once, the Lakers have a coach who could maintain a positive relationship with Kobe Bryant.

But as Byron Scott tackles on this challenge in becoming the next Lakers’ coach, his equity with the Lakers’ fanbase after playing here during the Showtime Era may only go so far. Same thing with Bryant, whom the Lakers believe Scott will maximize the last years of his playing career in the post after serving as a mentor for him during his rookie season nearly 18 years ago.

Scott will also have the difficult task in guiding the Lakers’ rebuilding process a year after the team finished with the worst record in L.A. franchise history. To accelerate that process, one of the key variables will entail which role players flourish under Scott’s leadership.

That marked one of many topics Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet host Chris Geeter, analyst Dave Miller and I addressed recently in a show mostly previewing the schedule release of the Lakers’ 2014-15 season.

Miller argued the biggest beneficiary will be Jeremy Lin, arguing he will become the next point guard to flourish under Scott. Elite point guards, such as Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving all excelled during Scott’s various stops in New Jersey (2000-04), New Orleans (2004-2009) and Cleveland (2010-2013). Lin also arguably would have benefited under D’Antoni after manufacturing “Linsanity” under his watch in New York. Meanwhile, I touted Jordan Hill as a possibility. Though he posted career numnbers last season in points (9.7), rebounds (7.4) and minutes (20.8), Hill occasionally expressed feeling uncomfortable under D’Antoni because his system relied heavily on perimeter players. Meanwhile, the Lakers became frustrated that Hill’s energy waned, especially when he logged heavier minutes. For what it’s worth, Scott places a heavier emphasis on post players and spoke highly of Hill during his time last season as an analyst for Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet.

So what say you? Which Lakers’ role player will benefit the most under Scott and why?

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How will Lakers handle Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash on back-to-backs?

The Lakers' Kobe Bryant in street clothes during their game against the Heat at the Staples Center December 25, 2013. Bryant may not return to play this season. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant in street clothes during their game against the Heat at the Staples Center December 25, 2013. Bryant may not return to play this season. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Despite their contrasting personalities and different skillsets, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash have a connective thread beginning from entering 1996 NBA draft and eventually retiring with a sure lock for a Hall of Fame nomination.

Amid Bryant’s thirst for scoring and Nash’s enjoyment out of passing, both have maximized their careers by perfecting those particular skills with versatility and creativity. They have done so through sheer work ethic, through mastering fundamentals and through overcoming too many injuries to count. Yet, both Bryant and Nash failed last season in translating their devotion to training, dieting and rehabbing into actually staying healthy.

Nash appeared in only 15 games because of persisting nerve issues in his back that emerged through seemingly any measure of physical contact with an opponent. Bryant played in only six games after a seven-month rehab on his left Achilles tendon coincided with a fractured left knee. The Lakers have labeled Bryant and Nash as fully recovered, but how will they manage the two veterans in the 2014-15 season?

That marked one of many topics Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet host Chris Geeter, analyst Dave Miller and I addressed Wednesday to preview the schedule release of the Lakers’ 2014-15 season. We discussed the possibility that both Bryant and Nash could sit out on the second night of the 16 sets of back-to-back games this season, a slight dropoff from the 19 sets of back-to-back games the Lakers played last season.

It seems likely Nash would continue that formula considering the Lakers immediately adopted that route with him last season. But how about Bryant? Both former coaches Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni talked in recent seasons about needing to limit Bryant’s minutes both to ensure his long-term health and ease the burden on his workload. But overlooking Bryant’s 29.2 minutes he averaged last season in only six games, considering the playing time in previous seasons, including the campaigns in 2011-12 (38..5) and 2012-13 (38.6). Clearly, the ideal for Bryant not to log so much playing time often does not comform to the short-term pressures the Lakers face.

That is why Miller argued how Lakers coach Byron Scott handles Bryant’s workload will mark his biggest challenge in handling a potentially lengthy rebuilding process.

So what should it be? Should the Lakers play Nash and Bryant conservatively, hoping their long-term health would maximize the Lakers’ chances at winning even if their absence creates additional challenges? Or do the Lakers need to establish some comfort level in the standings before taking such measures?

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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