John Calipari maintains he wouldn’t take Lakers’ job

In between a spiel on how to fix the NCAA and why he’s correct in embracing the so-called “one and done movement” in college basketball, Kentucky coach John Calipari offered something probably no other basketball coach ever say.

Would he say yes if the Lakers offered him a head-coaching job?

“No,” Calipari said on ESPN’s First Take. “I wouldn’t.”

That’s not what former Kentucky star Rex Chapman said, tweeting mere hours before the Wildcats NCAA finals loss to Connecticut that it was a “done deal” that he would coach the Lakers. The Lakers immediately refuted the revelation and Calipari provided the usual non-denial denial coaches offer when asked about a supposed job opening.

There’s a strong suspicion that Calipari, or at least those close to him, leaked such a nugget in hopes of securing a long-term extension with Kentucky. Calipari didn’t answer, or pretended not to hear, when ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith asked if he received a pay raise after that story. Instead, Calipari offered this post-game gem.

“After the game, I’m trying to be strong for my team and Anthony Davis and my guys are in there and they feel bad,” Calipari said. “One of them says, ‘Are you going to the Lakers? There’s a rumor you’re going to the Lakers.’ I was like, ‘No, but Anthony, will you come with me?”

The Lakers will not evaluate Mike D’Antoni’s future until the season ends on Wednesday against San Antonio, though the team is currently leaning toward retaining him. They fear his firing won’t necessarily solve their issues considering the Lakers’ worst finish in franchise history in Los Angeles also stemmed from numerous injuries and a talent-deprived roster. The Lakers also believe they would perpetuate a coaching carousal that has included four coaches in the past five years. It’s not clear when the Lakers will decide D’Antoni’s future, but it will be determined well before the NBA draft in late June.

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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 downplay NBA draft lottery implications with win over Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY — The Lakers may have taken a turn for the worse, even on a night where they collected a rare victory and Nick Young almost set a career-high in scoring.

The Lakers’ 119-104 victory Monday over the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena may have snapped the team’s seven-game losing streak. But such a feel-good moment may just lead to more sorrow when the Lakers await their fate during the NBA draft lottery (May 20) in hopes of landing the top pick.

The Lakers (26-55) are currently ahead of the Utah Jazz (24-57) with the sixth-worst NBA record, giving them a 6.3 percent to secure the top pick in the draft lottery on May 20. A loss would have secured a tie for the fourth-worst NBA record, giving them an 11.9 percent chance for the first draft selection if they stay tied with Boston and win a coin flip.

Not only did the Lakers downplay the implications. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni sounded unaware of the rules.

“I think, if I’m not mistaken, it’s the same number of ping pong balls, right?” D’Antoni said. “They flip a coin, or something …”

Actually, the setup entails 14 ping pong balls being placed in a lottery machine numbered one through 14. Four balls are then drawn at random to determine the winner of each of the top three picks of the draft. Each team in the lottery is then assigned a certain number of four-number combinations. The remaining 11 picks are then ordered from teams with from the worst to best records.

“I mean, you kind of hate that,” D’Antoni responded, realizing what the win did to the potential draft order. “But, I thought we had the same rank.”

Regardless, the Lakers have scoffed at such talk.

Lakers center Robert Sacre repeatedly called the discussion “stupid” before noting that all NBA players want to compete. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has denied setting up a team to fail and has attributed the struggles to the myriad of injuries, most notably to Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee) and Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back).

“If we would’ve lost tonght, we would’ve been in last place in the West,” said Young, whose 41 points on 14-of-23 shooting fell short of his career-high 43 points set with Washington against Sacramento on Jan. 11, 2011. “We would’ve had more lottery balls. But I wasn’t thinking about it.”

Instead, Young was thinking about his future, mindful that he will likely opt out of his $1.2 million player option in hopes of a longer and more lucrative deal with the Lakers.

“We’re not going out there just to lose for the draft because I think we still want to be in the league,” Young said earlier this week. “These guys are coming in to take our spots, so, I’m not about to give up for somebody else to come in and take my spot.”

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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 provides 360 move against Grizzlies


In a season filled with dashed playoff hopes, the Lakers have resorted toward finding happy moments in small places.

Tracking various role players’ developments. Hustling in every game. At least for Lakers fans, the increased ping pong balls giving the Lakers a good chance to strike it rich in the NBA draft lottery.

Nick Young provided one of those feel-good moments in an otherwise unwatchable Lakers’ 102-90 loss Sunday to the Memphis Grizzles at Staples Center. There, Young performed a 360 as he drove to the basket, converted and gave the fans something to cheer about in the Lakers’ last home game of the season.

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Mitch Kupchak: “There is great interest in re-signing” Pau Gasol

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak tried preaching patience. Nick Ut - Associated Press)

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak tried preaching patience. Nick Ut – Associated Press)

Did Pau Gasol play his last game as a Laker?

Perhaps. The Lakers officially ruled him out for the team’s three remaining games because of vertigo, and the Lakers forward has conceded he will test the free agent market this offseason.

But how do the Lakers feel?

“There’s great interest in re-signing Pau back,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told the Daily News. “I don’t know why there would not be interest. He’s a Hall of Famer. But by virtue of being a free agent, he’s in the market place. By being in the market place, we have to see how things play out.”
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Gasol, Nash, Kaman listed as doubtful vs. Memphis

In a storyline that will play out only one more week, the Lakers (25-54) enter Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzles (47-32) at Staples Center fielding a flurry of uncertainty surrounding injuries.

Pau Gasol (vertigo), Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back) and Chris Kaman (strained right calf) are all listed as doubtful against Memphis. Gasol and Nash sat out of Saturdays’ practice, which was described as nothing more than a short film session and walk through that lasted about 30 minutes. Kaman participated in what the Lakers described as “limited basketball related activities.”

Kaman said this week he’s hoping to return for the Lakers’ two-game trip to close out the season with stops in Utah (Monday) and San Antonio (Wednesday). The Lakers have conceded the possibility both Nash and Gasol will not play in any of the three remaining games, but are currently listed as day-to-day.

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Xavier Henry expected to be fully healthy by training camp

The Lakers expect Xavier Henry will fully recover by the beginning of training camp after he had surgeries on Friday to repair both a torn ligament in his left wrist and cartilage abnormality in his right knee.

Dr. Steve Shine performed Henry’s wrist surgery, while Dr. Steve Lombardo completed his knee surgery. Both doctors are at Kerlan-Kobe Orthopaedic Clinic.

Henry became a pleasant surprise for the Lakers, morphing from a training camp invitee toward a solid wing player boasting plenty of athleticism. Henry averaged a career-high 10 points in 21.1 minutes, though his injuries limited him to 43 games.

Henry will become a free agent in July, and has expressed interesting in re-signing with the Lakers. He made just under $1 million after having three uneventful seasons in Memphis and New Orleans after being selected 12th overall in the 2010 NBA draft.

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Gasol, Nash considered doubtful vs. Golden State, Kaman to sit out

The Lakers listed both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash doubtful to play Friday against Golden State because of respectively persistent injuries involving vertigo and nerve irritaton.

Gasol completed an individual workout on Thursday, but Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he has not received medical clearance to play. He has missed the past nine games because of the illness. D’Antoni reported Nash “feels a lot better” after feeling what he called “a bite” in his hamstrings in the Lakers’ loss Tuesday against Houston. So much that D’Antoni said Nash “maybe” will play in one of the last four games.

Meanwhile, Lakers center Chris Kaman ruled himself out both Friday against Golden State and Sunday against Memphis after sitting the past four games because of a strained right calf that he said stemmed from landing awkwardly during the Lakers’ loss last week to Portland.

Kaman completed elliptical exercises on Thursday and expressed optimism he could play in the Lakers’ last two games in Utah (April 14) and San Antonio (April 16).

“I’m battling back and forth,” Kaman said. “I don’t want to go backwards at all. I want to make sure I go in a forward direction.”

Lakers guard Jordan Farmar reported no setbacks in his appearance Tuesday against Houston after missing the previous seven games because of a strained right groin. If if Nash sits, D’Antoni said he plans to stay cautious with Farmar so he doesn’t reinjure himself.

“I don’t think about it. We have several days of rest [after the season],” Farmar said. “What happens happens, If Nash plays or not, I’ll be ready. Whenever Mike tells me to come in, I’ll be ready. I don’t think too much about it.”

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Nick Young “very confident” he will reach agreement to stay with Lakers

Lakers forward Nick Young will likely opt out of his $1.22 million player option. But he said he is "very confident" he will reach an agreement to stay with the Lakers

Lakers forward Nick Young will likely opt out of his $1.22 million player option. But he said he is “very confident” he will reach an agreement to stay with the Lakers

A hefty offseason project awaits the Lakers, but it appears they may one measure of clarity surrounding at least one roster spot.

Lakers forward Nick Young said that he’s “very confident” that he will stay with the Lakers even though he plans to opt out of his $1.22 million option.

“I think we’ll come to some kind of agreement,” Young said Thursday after practice. “Hopefully it happens. We’ll have to see what they’re going to do. I know Kobe’s going to want something.”
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Steve Nash doubts he will play again this season after feeling pain during record-setting performance

Lakers#10 Steve Nash passes the ball around Rockets#1 Isaiah Canaan in the first half. Nash would go on to become the 3rd all-time leader in assists later in the first half. The Houston Rockets traveled to Los Angeles to play the Lakers in a regular season game at Staples Center. Los Angeles, CA. April 8, 2014 (Photo by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers#10 Steve Nash passes the ball around Rockets#1 Isaiah Canaan in the first half. Nash would go on to become the 3rd all-time leader in assists later in the first half. The Houston Rockets traveled to Los Angeles to play the Lakers in a regular season game at Staples Center. Los Angeles, CA. April 8, 2014 (Photo by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

His passes showed Steve Nash’s brilliance. His movement showed how Nash has maximized greatness out of a 40-year-old body. The “bite” that he described feeling in his hamstrings revealed his fragility. His uncertain future revealed the never-ending frustration surrounding Nash’s roller coaster through two seasons with the Lakers.

On the same night Nash eclipsed Golden State coach Mark Jackson for third place on the NBA’s all-time assists list, he also revealed that this might mark the final game of a failed Lakers season that entailed a 145-130 loss Tuesday to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

“Because I had a pretty good setback today, I probably won’t play again,” Nash said. “If I get a good recovery over the next week, I’d love to play again. A big goal for me was not to go into the summer injured. The fact that I had a setback today was frustrating.”
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Steve Nash moves up to third place in all-time assists

During a failed Lakers season riddled with missed playoff fortunes and too many injuries to count, Steve Nash provided one dose of positive news.

The Lakers guard moved up to third place among the NBA’s all-time assists leaders, eclipsing Golden State coach Mark Jackson after tallying his sixth assist in the Lakers game Tuesday against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. After missing the past three games because of nerve irritation in his back, Nash came off the bench and broke the record after recording his fifth assist of the game with XX remaining in the XX quarter.

Nash’s record-breaking assist entailed throwing a cross-court pass to Jodie Meeks, who converted a two-handed dunk with 2:14 left in the second quarter. Nash also set up Meeks on another fast-break dunk, as well as a mid-range jumper for Jordan Hill and three-pointers for Jordan Farmar and Wesley Johnson. Once Nash left the game with 1:14 left in the second quarter, the fans at Staples Center gave him a rousing ovation.

The Lakers originally planned to shut Nash down once Jordan Farmar returned from a sprained right groin that sidelined him for the past 11 games. But Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni changed his mind in part so Nash could break the record.

“He’s healthy enough. We don’t want to go too crazy,” D’Antoni said. “But he can play some minutes and he wants to play. There’s some goals there. Why not. There’s some goals here. Why not? He can end up the year the best he can.”
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