Lakers to include Kobe Bryant & Byron Scott in meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will undergo surgery Wednesday for the torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, but a timetable for his return will not be revealed until after the surgery. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will undergo surgery Wednesday for the torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, but a timetable for his return will not be revealed until after the surgery. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

The Lakers plan to host a set of heavy hitters for when they meet with Portland center LaMarcus Aldridge at 9:01 p.m. in Los Angeles, which will mark the beginning of free agency.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is expected to sit in on the meeting, according to a league source familiar with his itinerary. He will join Lakers president Jeanie Buss, general manager Mitch Kupchak, executive Jim Buss, coach Byron Scott, assistant general manager Glenn Carraro, senior vice president of business operations Tim Harris, team spokesman John Black, representatives from Time Warner Cable SportsNet and AEG. Former Lakers forward James Worthy, who serves as a studio analyst for Access SportsNet, also plans to attend the meeting.
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Magic Johnson won’t be around for Lakers’ initial free agent pitches

Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke at Cal State Long Beach Monday, May 05, 2014, Long Beach, CA.  Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke at Cal State Long Beach
Monday, May 05, 2014, Long Beach, CA.
Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Magic Johnson once delivered the Lakers NBA championships with no-look passes and timely shots. But the Lakers legend will not be around for the team’s latest quest to return to championship contention.

Johnson, who is a part of an ownership group with the Dodgers, left on Tuesday for a vacation in Europe, according to a source familiar with his itinerary. Although it is currently unclear when Johnson will return, it is safe to say he will not be available for the Lakers’ initial meetings with marquee free agents. The Lakers currently plan to visit Portland center LaMarcus Aldridge tonight at 9:01 p.m. PST and Clippers center DeAndre Jordan on Wednesday. They likely will have even more meetings scheduled this week.
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Lakers make a big splash with 2015 NBA Draft

My colleague Thuc Nhi Nguyen produced videos surrounding everything about the Lakers in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Above, I provided my analysis of the Lakers’ draft picks at No. 2 (Ohio State freshman guard D’Angelo Russell), No. 27 (Wyoming senior power forward Larry Nance. Jr) and No. 34 (Stanford senior small forward Anthony Brown).

Below, there is video highlighting the main parts of Monday’s press conference with all three players.

Los Angeles News Group intern Alex Nieves had a brief one-on-one interview with Brown in the video below.

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D’Angelo Russell believes he and Jordan Clarkson can grow together

Can D’Angelo Russell bring ‘Showtime’ back to the Lakers?

It’s a big challenge, but Laker D’Angelo Russell appears ready

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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D’Angelo Russell believes he and Jordan Clarkson can grow together

LA Lakers press conference to introduce 2015 NBA Draftees - D'Angelo Russell (shown), Antonio Brown and Larry Nance Jr. - at training facility in El Segundo. Photo by Brad Graverson/LANG/06/29/15

LA Lakers press conference to introduce 2015 NBA Draftees – D’Angelo Russell (shown), Antonio Brown and Larry Nance Jr. – at training facility in El Segundo. Photo by Brad Graverson/LANG/06/29/15

How they arrived with the Lakers seems different, though both D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson may finish their respective journeys the same way.

Russell officially became a Laker five days ago after selecting him second in the 2015 NBA Draft. He sounded determined to meet the high expectations that includes becoming the Lakers’ next great point guard since Magic Johnson and eventually having his jersey join other Lakers luminaries on the Staples Center rafters. Clarkson became a Laker nearly a year ago after paying $1.8 million to Washington to secure his rights to the 46th pick. Since then, Clarkson has proven countless teams wrong for passing on him by earning a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie first team.

Amid those different stories, Russell sees the same mentality on how both he and Clarkson stepped on the court eager to show their growth. Hence, Russell expressed confidence both he and Clarkson will play well together in a dynamic that will involve sharing ball handling duties with Kobe Bryant.

“He’s an explosive guard, fast. He’s bigger than most guards,” Russell said. “I look at it more as he’s a guy that I can definitely play with. He’s versatile also, he can play off the ball, with the ball. So, I mean, I feel like it’s just an advantage to be young and we can grow together.”

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Lakers to have free agency meetings with LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan

Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, center, says he is ready for Spurs to deploy Hack-A-DJ strategy during playoff series. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, center, says he is ready for Spurs to deploy Hack-A-DJ strategy during playoff series. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

No NBA team can contact free agents until the clock strikes 9:01 p.m. on Tuesday. But that does not preclude teams from setting up meetings with them.

The Lakers plan to meet with Portland center LaMarcus Aldridge once free agency starts on Tuesday night, according to a league source familiar with the team’s itinerary. The Lakers will then follow that up with a meeting on Wednesday with Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, the league source said.

The Lakers will put the highest priority in acquiring a marquee frontcourt player after selecting Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell with the second pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. But it remains unclear if they can attract other candidates, such as Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Cleveland’s Kevin Love or Detroit’s Greg Monroe.
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D’Angelo Russell eager to learn “everything” from Kobe Bryant

Former Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell talks with media after he worked out with Lakers on Monday, June, 8. (Photo by Stephen Carr/Daily Breeze)

Former Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell talks with media after he worked out with Lakers on Monday, June, 8. (Photo by Stephen Carr/Daily Breeze)

The most important caller in D’Angelo Russell’s short Lakers tenure finally reached his cell phone.

Four days after Russell experience elation over the Lakers selecting him with the No. 2 pick of this year’s draft, Kobe Bryant reached him and then peppered him with a compliment.

“He said he heard great things about me,” said Russell earning Big 10 Freshman of the Year honors for averaging 19.3 points and five assists with Ohio State. But instead of reveling in the Lakers’ star praising him, Russell quickly told Bryant something that suggests the two speak the same language.

“I just told him I’m a sponge,” Russell said on Monday at his introductory press conference at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Whatever he’s willing to teach me, I’m willing to learn.”

Russell then said that entailed “everything,” mindful that Bryant enters his 20th and possibly last NBA season with an extensive resume that includes five NBA championships, a third place on the league’s all-time scoring list and overcoming numerous injuries.

“I always knew he was one of the greatest to play the game,” Russell said of Bryant. “So, just to get this honor to play with him is just remarkable.”
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Larry Nance Jr. on Kobe Bryant: “I can’t thank him enough for forgiving me”

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins defends against Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins defends against Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

What started out with elation soon turned into dread.

The Lakers drafted Wyoming senior power forward Larry Nance. Jr on Thursday with the 27th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. But as he processed all that excitement, Nance Jr. estimated it took only two minutes before a tweet he posted three years ago about Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault charge in 2003 went viral. Nance Jr. soon admitted “it was definitely something I wish I could take back.”

“I thought I was about to throw up,” Nance Jr. said on Monday at his introductory press conference at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “I felt sick to my stomach. I embarrassed myself and felt so bad about what I said. I wanted to apologize to him right away.”
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Lakers decline team option on Jordan Hill

"Los Angeles Lakers' Jordan Hill smiles before the Lakers' NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)"

“Los Angeles Lakers’ Jordan Hill smiles before the Lakers’ NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)”

The Lakers will decline to pick up a $9 million team option on Jordan Hill for the 2015-16 season, according to league sources familiar with the situation.

The Lakers technically have until midnight on Tuesday to make this decision. But they informed Hill’s representatives on Monday that they most likely will not pick up his option. The Lakers have leaned that way ever since the 2014-15 season ended for numerous reasons.

First, the Lakers currently have five power forwards on their roster, including Julius Randle, Larry Nance. Jr, Tarik Black and Ryan Kelly. That does not account for Ed Davis, who has declined his $1.1 million player option for a longer deal.

Secondly, the Lakers will prioritize targeting front-court players in free agency, including Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Memphis’ Marc Gasol, the Clippers DeAndre Jordan, Cleveland’s Kevin Love and Detroit’s Greg Monroe. Hill’s departure gives the Lakers about $23 million in spending power to fill out their roster.

Should the Lakers strike out any of those big-name free agents, the Lakers could still re-sign Hill as a free agent at a much lower price tag. But it remains to be seen whether that will happen.

Despite Hill posting career-highs in points (12), rebounds (7.9), stars (57) and minutes (26.8), the Lakers became frustrated with his inconsistency. The Lakers and Hill both attributed those struggles toward adapting to heavy playing time and struggles with his diet.

The Lakers acquired Hill from the Houston Rockets in 2012 as part of a mid-season trade involving Derek Fisher.

RELATED:

How will NBA’s new television deal affect Lakers’ free agency?

Kobe Bryant forgives Larry Nance Jr. for tweet referencing sexual assault charge

Mitch Kupchak calls Anthony Brown “one of the better shooters in the draft”

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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Kobe Bryant forgives Larry Nance Jr. for tweet referencing sexual assault charge

It turns out Kobe Bryant did not scold Lakers rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. for posting a tweet three years ago about his sexual assault case.

Instead, Bryant said he forgave Nance Jr. and said there is “no need” to discuss it any further.

“The kid figured it out himself,” Bryant said on Saturday with ESPN’s Jemele Hill at the BET Experience at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. “The kid is 19. He’s a kid.”

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Mitch Kupchak calls Anthony Brown “one of the better shooters in the draft”

The Los Angeles Lakers had the number 2 pick in the NBA draft and selected D'Angelo Russell from Ohio State Thursday, June 25, 2015, El Segundo, CA. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak discusses the selection of Russell with the media from the Toyota Sports Center practice facility. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

The Los Angeles Lakers had the number 2 pick in the NBA draft and selected D’Angelo Russell from Ohio State Thursday, June 25, 2015, El Segundo, CA. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak discusses the selection of Russell with the media from the Toyota Sports Center practice facility. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

The young man admired the Lakers from afar.

Well before he would spend his five years at the University of Stanford, Anthony Brown’s upbringing in Bellflower entailed bleeding purple and gold and cheering for Kobe Bryant.

The experienced executive admired Brown from afar, too.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak frequently watched Brown play that either required a drive to UCLA or USC or a shot flight to Stanford, Cal or even Washington.

Brown fell in love with the Lakers’ championship excellence and Bryant’s unyielding drive, leaving Brown to gush with nostalgia after the Lakers selected him with 34th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

“That definitely helps me to know what it means to put on a jersey and what it means to represent a Laker,” Brown said. “A lot of pride comes with that jersey. I think I can definitely help that and represent the team well.”

Kupchak fell in love with Brown’s versatility and his 44.1 percent from three-point range in the past two seasons, leaving Kupchak to imagine great things on how that will translate on his own team.

“We consider him one of the better shooters in the draft,” Kupchak said of Brown. “We think he can play multiple positions with shooting guard, small forward and is versatile enough to bring the ball up the floor with some pressure.”
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