Lakers’ Nick Young spent Hawaiian vacation reuniting with dolphins, flying over volcano

Lakers#0 Nick Young shoots over Nuggets#7 J.J. Hickson in the 4th quarter. The Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 106-96 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA February 10, 2015.  (Photos by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers#0 Nick Young shoots over Nuggets#7 J.J. Hickson in the 4th quarter. The Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 106-96 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA February 10, 2015. (Photos by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers forward Nick Young traveled all the way to Hawaii to conquer his fear.

After reporting that he nearly died last summer in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico from a dolphin carrying him deep into the water, Young suddenly made peace with an animal known to be just as friendly as the Lakers’ eccentric forward.

“I got a chance to talk to the dolphins a little bit,” Young joked after Thursday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “We have a cool understanding. We stay away from each other and give each other a head nod.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott confident in front office’s rebuilding plan

"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) “

After once talking to his team about championship aspirations, Lakers coach Byron Scott has experienced too many losses and absorbed too many injuries to make a pretty understandable conclusion.

“We need pieces at every position,” Scott said on Thursday after practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo.

Yet, the Lakers (13-40) did not make any moves leading into Thursday’s trade deadline. The Lakers expressed a “ton” of interest in guard Goran Dragic, according to an NBA source familiar with the situation. But the Phoenix Suns traded Dragic and his brother, Zoran, to the Miami Heat for Danny Granger, Justin Hamilton and two first-round picks. The Lakers, meanwhile, were unwilling to part ways with their own draft selections.

“It didn’t seem like anything was going to happen,” Scott said after having brief conversations with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. “So I don’t know how close it was. He didn’t give me an indication of that.”

They can keep a first-round pick owed to Phoenix as part of the Steve Nash deal if it lands in the top five. The Lakers also have a mid first-round pick stemmed from the Jeremy Lin trade. And with Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Ryan Kelly and Julius Randle as the lone players under contract next season, the Lakers will have enough money to sign a marquee free agent to a maximum-level salary.

All of that prompted Scott say, “I have a lot of faith” in Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss in rebuilding the roster this summer.

“I believe in Jim and believe in Mitch,” Scott said. “The game plan they showed in me months ago, I believe in that. It’s going to take us some time. We know it’s going to be a process. You just have to stick to your guns.”
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Lakers make no moves after trade deadline passes

LA Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak talks to reporters about the upcoming 2013-14 season from their training facility in El Segundo. (Wed. Sept. 25, 2013. Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

LA Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak talks to reporters about the upcoming 2013-14 season from their training facility in El Segundo. (Wed. Sept. 25, 2013. Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

The Lakers (13-40) have plenty of holes in their roster, but the team declined to address any of them leading into Thursday’s trade deadline.

The Lakers showed a “ton” of interest Phoenix guard Goran Dragic before he was eventually traded to the Miami Heat. But the Lakers “just didn’t have assets,” according to an NBA source familiar with the discussions. The Lakers also wanted to ensure that they both maintain their cap space for the free agency sweepstakes in July as well as their draft picks.
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Lakers’ Byron Scott considering lineup changes

"Laker coach Byron Scott applauds his players in the fourth quarter. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings 98-95 in Los Angeles, CA. December 9, 2014. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)"

“Laker coach Byron Scott applauds his players in the fourth quarter. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings 98-95 in Los Angeles, CA. December 9, 2014. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)”

The Lakers appear likely to make lineup changes, regardless of whether they make a move leading into Thursdays’ trade deadline that ends at 12 p.m. PST.

With Byron Scott insistent he would evaluate his starting lineup every 15 to 20 games this season, the Lakers coach strongly suggested another shuffle will take place.

“I’ll probably make another lineup change just to get some other guys some time to just go out there and show what they can do as well,” Scott said. “So I do expect probably one more, at least, lineup change.”

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Lakers’ Jeremy Lin declines free agency discussion with family, agent

Lakers guard Jeremy Lin downplayed both Thursday’s NBA trade deadline and his pending free agency. But this did not just involve Lin staying politically correct with reporters following Wednesday’s practice. During the Lakers’ week-long break during All-Star weekend, Lin reported that he declined to discuss those issues even with his family and agent.

“I said there is no use talking to me about it now,” Lin said at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “You don’t know what’s going to happen with the trade deadline and what happens when free agency comes around. There’s literally no point in me thinking about it right now because what it looks like right now won’t be reality when the decision needs to be made. I haven’t focused on it and I’ve refused to talk about it even with my agent. I’m not worried about it.”

Lin reported that his agent told him there is no imminent deal involving him. But any effort for the Lakers’ to trade him becomes complicated. He has averaged 10.2 points on 42.6 percent shooting, 4.6 assists and 2.7 turnovers in 25.5 minutes per game. Lin’s expiring contract, worth $14.9 million, could become too burdensome even if $8 million of his salary goes against the cap.

That’s why numerous NBA sources outside of Lin’s camp and the Lakers are skeptical either party would want a reunion. Lin has admittedly struggled sharing ball-handling duties and adapting to Byron Scott’s Princeton-based offense after playing in traditional systems with New York and Houston. But even when Lin’s agent asked him about his outlook for this summer, the Lakers guard responded, “Let’s just talk about that when the season ends.”

Yet, Lin seems more consumed with wanting to reduce his turnovers and play with more efficiency.

“You keep trying and learn from the individual process. When you try to look at it from the big picture, it can wear on you and you lose focus of the here and now of what you’re trying to accomplish today,” Lin said. “The biggest thing for me is playing again. [The break] allowed me to say the game is so fun.”

Lin spent the first part of his break in New York City where he reunited with various family members. Lin enjoyed it so much that he said, “I can’t remember laughing as much as I did.”

Lin then returned to Los Angeles to increase his workouts and diet after staying limited last week because of a recent stomach bug.

“I was able to clear my mind and come back and hit the ground running,” Lin said. “It doesn’t hurt I got the sun back with me. New york was negative four [degrees] every day. I was out here with the beach and my bike. I was all right.”

How does Lin carry that positive outlook once the Lakers (13-40) start playing? After all, they have lost six consecutive games and 15 of the past 16 contests. Yet, Lin maintained he would keep pushing and not worry about the big picture implications.

“Free agency is one of those situations where you have more control,” Lin said. “But until then, you really don’t have control on your behalf. The biggest thing I want to do is end things a different way than where we’re going with the Lakers. That’s what I’m going to focus on.”

RELATED:

Source: Lakers ‘unlikely’ to make deal prior to NBA trade deadline


Lakers’ Byron Scott, Jeremy Lin view his struggles differently


Lakers’ Jordan Hill braces for uncertainty of NBA trade deadline

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 “unlikely” to make deal before Thursday’s trade deadline

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is "unlikely" to make a deal befoer Thursday's trade deadline, according to a league source familiar with the discussion. (Scott Varley/Staff Photographer)

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is “unlikely” to make a deal befoer Thursday’s trade deadline, according to a league source familiar with the discussion. (Scott Varley/Staff Photographer)

It seems inevitable the Lakers (13-40) will make changes to their roster amid an eventual missed playoff appearance and possibly the worst record in franchise history.

But the Lakers are “unlikely” to make a deal prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, according to a league source familiar with the front office’s thinking. The Lakers have and will still make calls regarding possible trades. Yet, the Lakers are also aware that any moves could compromise a few variables they deem important.

The Lakers consider it a “high” priority, according to the league source both to maintain financial flexibility for this offseason’s free agency and to protect their draft picks. The Lakers have a middle first-round pick from Houston as part of the Jeremy Lin trade. The Lakers also owe a first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns as part of the Steve Nash trade, though they could keep it if the selection lands in the top five during the NBA draft lottery in late May.
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Lakers’ Nick Young, Jordan Hill get through Wednesday’s practice with no ailments

Lakers center Jordan Hill, left, has missed games with a sore right hip flexor, which could affect his status for Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Lakers center Jordan Hill, left, has missed games with a sore right hip flexor, which could affect his status for Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

The door to the Lakers’ practice facility opened, showing a first-hand glimpse at a Byron Scott practice that looked similar to training camp.

Players ran up and down the floor. The Lakers’ coaching staff routinely blew their whistles. The session lasted for nearly two hours.

A nice way for the Lakers (13-40) to begin practice after a nearly week-long break that coincided with NBA All-Star weekend. But it also provided a specific test for Nick Young and Jordan Hill, who nursed respective injuries to their left foot and right hip flexor before the Lakers went on vacation.

Yet, Scott reported both Young and Hill survived the practice and showed only minor rustiness.

“Both looked good today. Both looked a little winded,” Scott said after Wednesday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “But I thought both of them them didn’t show any ill-effects of the injury prior to the all-star weekend. So I think that’s a good sign.”

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Phoenix’s Goran Dragic considers Lakers an attractive option

"Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (1) makes the pass between Los Angeles Lakers forward Carlos Boozer (5) and Jordan Hill (27) in the third quarter during an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)"

“Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (1) makes the pass between Los Angeles Lakers forward Carlos Boozer (5) and Jordan Hill (27) in the third quarter during an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)”

The smile on his face widened. The tone in Goran Dragic’s voice sounded giddy.

How would the Phoenix Suns guard feel about playing for the Lakers once he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer?

“It’s not just L.A,” Dragic said in an interview last month with Los Angeles Newspaper Group. “I think everybody. Any team in the league. I’m rare in this position. I’ve been working hard and I can explore my options.”

Dragic made it clear he would become opt out of his $7.5 million to become an unrestricted free agent this summer even though he said he is “really happy here in Phoenix.” Yet, multiple reports indicate that Dragic would like the Suns to trade him before Thursday’s deadline.

Should the Lakers make a push for him instead of waiting to pursue him once free agency begins on July 1? There are risks to both equations.
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Kobe Bryant believes 2011 NBA lockout related to Lakers

Kobe Bryant appears on the cover of the upcoming issue of GQ magazine. The issue will appear on newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on February 17 and nationwide on February 24. Photo courtesy of GQ

Kobe Bryant appears on the cover of the upcoming issue of GQ magazine. The issue will appear on newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on February 17 and nationwide on February 24. Photo courtesy of GQ

If only the NBA did not nix the deal for Chris Paul, a phrase that nearly every Lakers fan and even team officials have uttered aloud within the past three years.

Count Kobe Bryant as one of those people, recently telling GQ Magazine that he believed the 2011 NBA lockout directly related to the Lakers because of their vast NBA championships (16) and lucrative cable deal that led plenty within the league believing the purple and gold operated on an uneven playing field.

“That lockout was made to restrict the Lakers,” Bryant said. It was. I don’t care what any other owner says. It was designed to restrict the Lakers and our marketability.”
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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant believes he should have seven NBA titles

"The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant #24 reacts after fouling the Grizzlies’  Mike Conley #11 late in the 4th quarter during their NBA game 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’ Kobe Bryant #24 reacts after fouling the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley #11 late in the 4th quarter during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 2, 2015. The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 109-106. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)”

No matter what happens from here until Kobe Bryant returns from an injury and finishes off the rest of a presumed 20-year NBA career, one important thing remains intact.

His legacy.

The Lakers star already has won five NBA championships. He sits in third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant has become the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer. His career-high 81 point game set eight years ago against the Toronto Raptors only trails Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game as the highest scoring performance in an NBA contest.

And, of course, Bryant remains unsatisfied, the Lakers’ star saying in an interview with NBA TV aired on Monday night that he should have won seven NBA titles instead of five. After all, the Lakers lost in the 2004 Finals to the Detroit Pistons and the 2008 Finals to the Boston Celtics, the Lakers’ 38-point Game 6 loss still marking the worst defeat Bryant experienced in his 19-year NBA career.

“I wanted to win in Boston,” Bryant said about the Lakers’ historic rivalry, “and rub it in their face.”
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