Lakers in discussions for deal with Yi Jianlian

The Lakers are in discussions in negotiating a deal with Chinese star Yi Jianlian, according to a league source familiar with the situation. The source said the deal has not been finalized, though the current plan entails signing Yi to a one-year deal on a non-guaranteed contract worth the veteran’s minimum plus various incentives.

ESPN first reported about the Lakers’ interest in Yi.

The 28-year-old Yi played five years in the NBA, averaging 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds career average of 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in stops with the Milwaukee Bucks (2007-08), former New Jersey Nets (2008-10), Washington Wizards (2010-2011) and Dallas Mavericks (2011-12). The listed 7-foot, 250 pound forward also has shot 33 percent from 3-point range. The Bucks selected Yi sixth overall in the 2007 Draft.

Yi is currently playing with the Chinese national team in the Rio Olympics and has spent the past four seasons with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association..

The Lakers have also yet to sign contracts for rookie forward Brandon Ingram and forward Tarik Black to maximize cap flexibility to accommodate any possible roster changes.

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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 to open 2016-17 season against Houston Rockets

New Orleans' Cheick Diallo, right, and Los Angeles Lakers' DAngelo Russell battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

New Orleans’ Cheick Diallo, right, and Los Angeles Lakers’ DAngelo Russell battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Both intrigue and uncertainty await on how long it will take for the Lakers’ young roster to develop. Or how long it will take for Luke Walton to master his position as the Lakers’ new head coach.

At least the Lakers have clarity on who they will play in the 2016-17 season. The Lakers learned a few things when the NBA announced its schedule for the 2016-17 campaign on Thursday, developments that could provide both rich storylines and landmarks during the team’s rebuilding process.

The Lakers will open a season without Kobe Bryant for the first time in 20 years with a home game against the Houston Rockets on Oct. 26 at Staples Center. After making two NBA Finals appearances and winning one NBA Championship the past two years with the Golden State Warriors, Walton will coach against his former team both at home (Nov. 4, Nov. 25) and away (Nov. 23, April 12). When the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers meet in Philadelphia (Dec. 16) and Los Angeles (March 12), inevitable comparisons will arise between this past year’s draft picks at No. 1 (Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons) and No. 2 (Lakers’ Brandon Ingram).

Even without Bryant or a fielding a playoff contending roster, the Lakers will play the Clippers on Christmas Day at Staples Center. Even if the Lakers have lost by an average of 20.45 points in 11 consecutive losses against their hometown rival, the Lakers-Clippers matchup should produce fireworks in designated games at home (Dec. 25, March 21) and on the road (Jan. 14, April 1).

The Lakers will likely experience other tests during other parts of the 2016-17 season.

The Lakers will experience extensive travel during a seven-game trip in 12 days in Sacramento (Dec. 12), Brooklyn (Dec. 14), Philadelphia (Dec. 16), Cleveland (Dec. 17), Charlotte (Dec. 20), Miami (Dec. 22) and Orlando (Dec. 23). Their annual Grammy trip will span eight days, including stops in Washington (Feb. 2), Boston (Feb. 3), New York (Feb. 6), Detroit (Feb. 8) and Milwaukee (Feb. 10). And the Lakers will also play 16 sets of back-to-back games, a slight decrease from the set of 18 back-to-back contests they played last season. Overall, the NBA reduced the number of back-to-back games to 16.3 per team, a 16 percent reduction from 19.3 per team in 2014-15 and an eight percent reduction from 17.8 per team last season.

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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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Kevin Durant said Lakers are “couple years away from where I wanted to be”

LAS VEGAS — The Lakers chased another star. Once again, that star ran away.

This time, the reasons had nothing to do with personality conflicts with teammates, salary or a poor sales pitch in its meeting. Kevin Durant did not grant the Lakers a meeting at all namely because he figured it would be a waste of time.

“Nothing against the Lakers, but I already had my mind set on who I wanted to talk to,” Durant said following practice with the U.S. Olympic team on Monday at UNLV. “I really respect their team. I just thought they were a couple years away from where I wanted to be.”
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Lakers’ Anthony Brown leaves Summer League frustrated with his shooting

Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown expressed frustration with his poor shooting marks in Summer League. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown expressed frustration with his poor shooting marks in Summer League. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS — The positive energy emerged in numerous ways for a Lakers organization that struggled finding any of that in recent years.

D’Angelo Russell looked invigorated under a more aggressive game and a more nurturing coaching staff. Until he sat to treat a sprained right hand, Larry Nance Jr. seemed unstoppable with his countless dunks and hustle plays. Ivica Zubac became an instant fan favorite for his pure enthusiasm, his constant blocks and his commanding post presence. Brandon Ingram appeared determined both to show his potential and fight through his initial shooting struggles.

For all the warm feelings the Lakers’ young core generated through Summer League, one player from that group walked away frustrated with how things turned out.

“I definitely was not happy with my offense all week,” said Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown.
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Lakers’ Ivica Zubac exceeds expectations in Summer League

Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac, right, averaged 10.6. points on 64.7 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds during summer-league play. Robert Casillas / Staff Photographer

Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac, right, averaged 10.6. points on 64.7 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds during summer-league play. Robert Casillas / Staff Photographer

LAS VEGAS — The viewing party started at 4:30 a.m., an ungodly hour usually only reserved for extended stays here at the casinos and posh nightclubs. For Ivica Zubac’s friends and family members in his native Croatia, however, that marked the time his close ones would watch the Lakers’ 19-year-old rookie center.

There, Zubac provided the same kind of excitement generated when a gambler throws all of his chips in on the correct number at the roulette table. Zubac sparked several cheers from the partisan Lakers crowd for his timely blocks, promising post presence and infectious enthusiasm. He earned new nicknames, ranging from “ZUU,” “Big Z” or “ZU-BLOCK.” And after Zubac averaged 10.6 points on 64.7 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds during summer-league play, the Lakers believe they found something more than what a No. 32 draft pick can usually offer.

“In two or three years, I can’t see why he can’t be like Marc Gasol,” Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown said. “Seriously. He’s talented.”

Bold words considering Gasol morphed from a burly Spaniard into one of the NBA’s most dominant centers. Gasol has made two All-Star appearances (2012, 2015) and a won Defensive Player of the Year award (2015). At this stage of his early career, Zubac has actually developed quicker than Gasol. After all, the Lakers did not blink whatsover in trading his rights after selecting him 48th overall in the 2007 NBA draft.

Not only did that move represent part of the deal to Memphis that secured his brother, Pau, and two subsequent NBA championships. The Lakers considered Marc Gasol a long-term project. As for Zubac, he showed it would not take long to show off his array of skills.

“I didn’t know I would play like this,” Zubac said. “I knew I would let everybody see what I have and prove myself why they picked me. I didn’t know I would play like this.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram eager to build off Summer League growth onto U.S. Select team

Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram grabs a rebound over the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram grabs a rebound over the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — Everywhere Brandon Ingram turned, he could have easily noticed the finality approaching.

The passionate Lakers crowd that dominated these Summer League games appeared smaller. After exerting his scoring superiority, Lakers second-year guard D’Angelo Russell dressed in street clothes and sat on the bench. And no matter the outcome, the Lakers would no longer play any more games here.

Yet, the Lakers’ 92-88 loss to the Utah Jazz in their consolation game on Friday at Thomas & Mack Center showed how Ingram’s work just started.

Without Russell’s playmaking, Ingram assumed a larger offensive role. So Lakers summer league coach Theo Robertson drew up plays that ensured Ingram would receive more looks in the post and along the wing. After averaging only five points per game on 31.6 percent shooting in the first four games, Ingram responded with 22 points on a 9-of-13 clip.

“I felt comfortable,” Ingram said. “I got off to a slow start. It kind of gave me motivation to try to push the team and get buckets and get it on the defensive end.”

Ingram also has another source of motivation that will keep him busy while most of his summer-league teammates will enjoy some rest. Starting on Monday, Ingram, Russell and Lakers third-year forward Julius Randle will begin training with the U.S. Men’s Select team at UNLV. Then, that team will practice against the U.S. Men’s Olympic team.

Robertson rattled off his hopes how Ingram learns as much as he can about those stars’ work ethic, professionalism and endless nuances that lifted them to stardom. Ingram’s bucket list seems even more detailed.

“To learn from the top players in this league,” Ingram said. “I think that’s very important for me coming into this league and trying to adjust to the physicality and pace of this game and see how they score so easily and on the defensive end how they get after it.”
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Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. listed as day-to-day with sprained right wrist

Lakers forward Larry Nance is sidelined for XX because of a broken right hand. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Lakers forward Larry Nance is sidelined for XX because of a broken right hand. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — The pain seemed immediately evident as Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. landed on the court with a loud thud. The ominous signs continued when Nance needed ice to treat a right wrist he believed was broken.

Nance’s fears, however, did not turn into a nightmare. An MRI taken on Friday showed that Nance has a sprained right wrist without any fracture or ligament damage. Nance will not play in the Lakers’ summer-league finale against the Utah Jazz on Friday at Thomas & Mack Center. But with the Lakers listing Nance as day-to-day, it appears likely he will report to training camp in late September fully healthy.

Nance took a hard fall in the waning seconds of the Lakers’ loss to Cleveland on Thursday. Nance then had x-rays that indicated a probable fracture. But Nance traveled to Los Angeles to visit Lakers physician Dr. Steve Lombardo and hand specialist Dr. Steve Shin of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic on Friday for further clarity.
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Kobe Bryant: “I’m far from done”

There will never mark a time where Kobe Bryant will ever play in an NBA game again. So those five NBA championship runs and endless clutch performances will represent nearly all of what Bryant accomplished in his 20-year NBA career. So will his endless ability to overcome injuries.

As Bryant accepted the ESPY Icon award on Wednesday at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, the Lakers’ former star made it clear, however, he has yet to write the final word on his legacy.

“I’m far from done,” Bryant said. “My next dream is to be honored one day for inspiring the next generation of athletes, to have a dream, sacrifice for it and never ever rest in the middle.”
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USA Basketball deferring to Lakers on possible scheduling overlap

New Orleans' Cheick Diallo, right, and Los Angeles Lakers' DAngelo Russell battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

New Orleans’ Cheick Diallo, right, and Los Angeles Lakers’ DAngelo Russell battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — There marks a chance the Lakers’ summer league schedule could overlap with the practice schedule for the U.S. Men’s Olympic team in Las Vegas.

Should the Lakers advance to the Summer League Final, that game would take place on July 18 at Thomas & Mack Center, the same day Team USA begins practice at UNLV. Russell, Julius

Randle and Brandon Ingram are playing for the U.S. Men’s select team.

“We want them to finish what they need to do with their team,” said USA basketball spokesman Craig Miller. “There’s no issue.”

Neither Mermuys nor Russell were initially aware of the arrangement. It appeared likely, however, Russell and Ingram will play in all the Lakers’ summer-league games. Randle is not playing in Summer League since he is a third-year player.

RELATED:

Lakers encouraging Ivica Zubac to extend his range

Lakers, D’Angelo Russell hope for better balance between scoring, playmaking

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 encouraging Ivica Zubac to extend his range

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Zubac gets a laugh from media. Photo By  Robert Casillas / SCNG

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Zubac gets a laugh from media.
Photo By Robert Casillas / SCNG

LAS VEGAS – The attempt once earned Andrew Bynum a quick trip to the bench. The concept became a disturbing trend to former Lakers coach Byron Scott.

But Lakers coach Luke Walton views the 3-point shot differently. After serving as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors as they perfected their outside shooting in the past two years, Walton plans to maximize that philosophy with a younger and more unproven roster. So much that the Lakers have encouraged rookie center Ivica Zubac to extend his range.

“Once they prove it to Coach Walton, he’ll let them shoot them,” Lakers summer league coach Jesse Mermuys said. “Obviously [Zubac] has to prove that. But that’s where the game is going. If you’re not allowing your guys to do that, then you’re behind the times. We have to encourage all that. If they prove it and make it, you have to let them shoot it.”

Zubac has not taken any 3-pointers yet through three summer league games. Yet, he has averaged nine points on a 64.3 percent clip based off a mix of post-ups and jumpers.

His infectious enthusiasm has gone beyond playing for his childhood team. He shared, “I really love the system” after the 19-year-old Bosnian native felt constricted when he played in Croatia.

“I was in the system where coach tells you who’s going to shoot now and he calls the plays. Players don’t have freedom. Here, you have freedom and you can show what you have,” Zubac said. “To have it for this first time is so great. I can show what I can do.”

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