Lakers refute Rex Chapman tweet that John Calipari will coach Lakers

Just before John Calipari set foot to coach Kentucky in the biggest college basketball game of the season, one of the Wildcats former stars predicted big things happening for his alma mater’s coach. It goes beyond winning the 2014 national championship against Connecticut.

Former Kentucky star Rex Chapman tweeted that Calipari will become the next Lakers’ coach.

Chapman cited no sources, nor did he provide any timetable. But no matter. The Lakers immediately refuted what Chapman reported in 140 characters.

“I spoke to [General Manager] Mitch Kupchak and he said the rumor is untrue,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “Mike D’Antoni is our coach. There have been no conversations about any specific names for any replacement.”

The Lakers have maintained that they will not evaluate D’Antoni’s until after the 2013-14 season. He will be owed a guaranteed $4 million next season, and has a team option for the 2015-16 season.

Meanwhile, Calipari is finishing up his fifth season at Kentucky, where he also won a national title in 2012. Calipari compiled a 72-112 in three seasons with the NBA’s former New Jersey Nets in the 1990s.

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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AM830 KLAA appearance entails Lakers talk on Mike D’Antoni, Kobe Bryant & Pau Gasol

Lakers Heads Coach Mike D'Antoni shouts at the officials in the first half. The Lakers played the Portland Trail Blazers in a regular season game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. April 1, 2014 (Photo by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers Heads Coach Mike D’Antoni shouts at the officials in the first half. The Lakers played the Portland Trail Blazers in a regular season game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. April 1, 2014 (Photo by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

The Lakers’ 120-97 loss to the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center marked yet another blow. The game featured yet another batch of the injuries, the latest victims falling to Nick Young (sore left knee) and Kent Bazemore (sprained right foot). Yet, there’s always stuff to talk about surrounding the purple and gold.

On my appearance Monday morning on “The Travis Rodgers Show” on AM830 KLAA, I addressed a flurry of topics that included:

-the Lakers injuries
-Mike D’Antoni’s future with the Lakers
-Kobe Bryant’s recovery
-Pau Gasol’s future with the Lakers

RELATED:

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni bearing the brunt of discontent, but he’s not about to stop fighting


Kent Bazemore attributes right foot sprain to “overuse”

Lakers’ Jordan Farmar shows maturity, patience despite challenging season

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, Kent Bazemore vow to play through injuries

The Clippers have gone beyond just stripping away the basketball superiority the Lakers once secured with 16 NBA championships. The Clippers also appear to have given them their curse, a well popularized theory explaining the franchise’s fortune of bad luck, questionable management decisions and poor play.

The Lakers’ 120-97 loss Sunday to the Clippers in a designated road game at Staples Center featured two more injured players, an unthinkable prospect considering the Lakers already fielded a nine-man rotation.

Kent Bazemore sprained and heard what he called a “pop” in his right foot with 10:08 left in the second quarter before sitting out the rest of the game. X-rays turned out negative, but Bazemore plans to receive an MRI on Monday to assess the damage.

Nick Young also experienced soreness in his left knee after chasing a loose ball in the final minute of the third quarter. He returned for four minutes midway through the fourth quarter before shutting him down.

“They’re trying to get through it,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They’re playing extra minutes because we don’t have an extra rotation.”

Indeed they don’t.

The Lakers already fielded season-ending injuries to Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee) and Xavier Henry (bone bruise in right knee) as well as day-to-day ailments to Pau Gasol (vertigo), Chris Kaman (strained right calf), Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back) and Jordan Farmar (strained right groin).

If there is any consolation, both Nash and Farmar are expected to play Tuesday against the Houston Rockets.

Young showed plenty of frustration on the bench with a  towel draped over his head. He reentered the game with 8:53 remaining, but lasted only four minutes. Young posted 18 points albeit on 5 of 15 shooting.

“I’m just going to go out with the ship and hang in there with the guys,” said Young, who plans to receive treatment on his knee, which also experienced a bone bruise that sidelined him this season for 16 games. “I’m trying to fight until the end.”

Bazemore attributed his injury toward playing a lot of minutes. He had also sprained his left foot his senior year at Old Dominion, an injury that required a screw.

“I’m not in a position where I can afford to miss games,” said Bazemore, mindful that he will become a free agent this offseason. “Tomorrow will tell all. If I’m able to go, you’ll see me out there.”

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Five things to take from Lakers’ 120-97 loss to Clippers

LakersÕ Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill try to get a pass from Clippers Darren Collison during game action at Staples Center Sunday April 6, 2014. Clippers defeated the Lakers 120-97.  ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News )

LakersÕ Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill try to get a pass from Clippers Darren Collison during game action at Staples Center Sunday April 6, 2014. Clippers defeated the Lakers 120-97. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News )

Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 120-97 loss to the Clippers Sunday at Staples Center:

1. The Lakers officially became tied for the worst team in Los Angeles franchise history.
The Lakers would gladly have the Clippers’ banners cover up this accomplishment. The Lakers (25-51) would have to win all five of their remaining games to avoid surpassing the 1974-75 team, which finished 30-52 overall, as having the worst record in franchise history since moving to Los Angeles. The Lakers’ loss also cemented only their fourth regular season series loss to the Clippers (2012-13, 1992-93 and 1974-75). Considering the Lakers’ never-ending injuries and persisting losing, it’s likely they’ll make the team record books for reasons that have nothing to do with NBA championships, MVP trophies or retired jerseys. As terrible as this season has turned out, this year’s Lakers team at least surpassed the Minneapolis Lakers team in 1957-58 (19-53) that holds the franchise’s worst record.

2. Kent Bazmore exited the game with a sprained right foot. The Clippers haven’t just taken basketball superiority away from the Lakers. The Clippers also appears to have given them their curse. Bazemore marks the sixth Lakers’ player to suffer an injury while playing the point guard spot after turning his right foot while handling the ball at the top of the key with 10:08 left in the second quarter. Bazemore, who had two points and four assists through 12 minutes, was then taken to the locker room to take x-rays that turned out negative. The Lakers plan for Bazemore to take an MRI on Monday.

Such developments have consistently defined the Lakers’ failed season. The other five Lakers’ point guards to suffer injuries include to Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee), Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back), Jordan Farmar (strained right groin), Xavier Henry (bone bruise in right knee, torn ligament in left wrist) and Steve Blake, who missed a combined 32 games because of a hyperextended right elbow before being traded two months ago to Golden State. Meanwhile, both Pau Gasol (vertigo) and Chris Kaman (strained right calf) remain sidelined.

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Five things to take from Lakers 107-95 loss to Dallas Mavericks

Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 107-95 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center:


1. Nick Young has a mild right ankle sprain.
It seemed like a foregone conclusion. With the Lakers already fielding an injury-depleted roster, it only seemed inevitable that another one would happen. Yes, it has become that kind of season where seemingly no one can stay healthy. Young showed discomfort with 7:04 left in the fourth quarter after grabbing a defensive rebound and landing awkwardly.

Though Young limped his way toward the locker room, any concerns about his health doesn’t appear to be serious. He suffered what the Lakers called a mild right ankle sprain and simply needed to be retaped. Young then returned to the bench with 4:33 noticeably in good spirits. So much that he could be seen hiding a laugh behind a towel. The Lakers’ injury list remains extensive, which includes Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee), Pau Gasol (vertigo), Chris Kaman (strained right calf), Xavier Henry (bone bruise in right knee, torn ligament) and Jordan Farmar (strained right groin). So it wouldn’t have been hardly surprising if the injury bug kept spreading. But it appears that Young, who scored 14 points on 5 of 8 shooting against Dallas, will still have the chance to build off his strong play.

2. The Lakers had defensive issues. As if that’s a surprise. The Lakers looked awful on defense on the categories you’d imagine. They lacked a rim protector, were outrebounded 52-38 and conceded 64 points in the paint. No one could match up with Dirk Nowitzki, who dropped 27 points on 11 of 14 shooting. Brendan Wright shot a perfect 10 of 10 for 23 points.


3. Steve Nash played what could have marked his final game of the season.
Before exiting the Lakers’ locker room to play in what could mark his last game, Nash joked facetiously to Chris Kaman that the game could mark the last game of his career. It might be too early to pen Nash’s legacy story considering the Lakers have suggested they will leave it up to him as to whether he wants to return next season for the last year of his contract that will pay him $9.8 million. But Nash wasn’t exaggerating when this could mark his last game this season considering Jordan Farmar plans to return from a right groin injury Tuesday against Houston.

There wasn’t much nostalgia, though. Nash finished with four points and seven assists. Oh, he looked dazzling all right, by infusing energy and ball movement in the Lakers’ offense. But Nash fell five assists shy of surpassing current Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson (10,334) for third place on the NBA’s all-time assists list. That’s because plenty of Nash’s amazing passes didn’t materialize. The Lakers opened the first quarter shooting 8 of 22 from the field (35.4%), including four missed shots from Robert Sacre.


4. Jodie Meeks continued his string of consistency.
There marked one point where the only thing Meeks could do entailed making three-pointers. Even that skillset transformed amid peaks and valleys. Fast forward this season, and Meeks showed yet another example with his 25 points on 10 of 17 shooting that he can seemingly do everything. Meeks made magnificent backdoor cuts to set himself up for open layups. He drove to the basket with both force and precision. Meeks hustled on defense. He also nailed his trusty 3-point shot (3 of 7).

If such a performance seems follow, well, it is. Meeks has posted double digits in 13 of the past 14 games. Considering the Lakers’ persistent losing and injury-depleted roster, it would be plausible to conclude on paper that Meeks is simply padding his numbers. But Meeks has actually painted a completely different picture. He has managed to score at a proficient rate because he constantly moves to open spots, passes the ball when covered, scores when he has an open look or drives when he can find a more higher percentage shot. Such concepts epitomize D’Antoni’s mantra of the “ball finding energy,” a philosophy that demands unyielding hustle and teamwork regardless of the circumstances.

5. Jordan Hill provided decent energy.
It’s a tall task to fill in for both Gasol and Kaman. But Hill still provided his usual energetic presence with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The only reboundL: no one else helped him out. Sacre posted seven points on 1 of 7 shooting and four rebounds.

RELATED:

Lakers shut down Xavier Henry for rest of the season

Steve Nash believes Lakers-Mavs game will mark last game of season

Jodie Meeks confident about Kentucky’s chances in the Final Four

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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Five things to take from Lakers’ 107-102 loss to Sacramento Kings

Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 107-102 loss Wednesday to the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena:

1. The Lakers’ loss put them in a better position in the draft lottery standings.
The ship has already sailed for the Lakers to make anything about this season successful. They aren’t making the playoffs. They have too many injuries to count. They have too many holes in their roster. So the Lakers may as well make the most of it, such as dropping this game to put them in a better draft position. The Lakers (25-50) trail the Kings (27-48) by two games, pitting themselves as the NBA’s sixth worst team ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks (14-61), Philadelphia 76ers (16-59), Orlando Magic (21-54), Boston Celtics (23-52) and Utah Jazz (23-52). This current scenario gives the Lakers a 6.3 percent chance to secure the No 1. pick in the NBA Draft lottery on May 20. The Lakers have seven more games to drop even further in the standings, but the games against other NBA basement dwellers bodes more importance.

2. The Lakers fielded a flood of injuries.
Of course, the Lakers profess that they are not tanking. That’s because plenty of the Lakers’ struggles involve circumstances, including suffering a fresh batch of injuries. Pau Gasol sat out after having a severe recurrence of vertigo on Wednesday. Chris Kaman missed the game with a strained right calf. Xavier Henry experienced increases soreness in his previously injured right knee. Steve Nash stayed on the sideline as part of his season-long strategy in sitting out back-to-backs to minimize the nerve irritation in his back.

This reality isn’t anything new. The Lakers have fielded 33 different starting lineups this season. But all four players appeared in Tuesday’s game against Portland, leaving the Lakers with a drastically different lineup within a day’s span. That thrust Jordan Hill (18 points on 5 of 15 shooting and 15 rebounds) and Ryan Kelly (six Points) in the starting lineup, while Wesley Johnson (eight points) and MarShon Brooks (three points) appeared after sitting out the previous night’s game entirely.


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Grandson of Lakers CEO Frank Mariani dies from car accident

Nicholas Mariani, the 24-year-old grandson of Lakers CEO Frank Mariani, died on Wednesday following what the Lakers called a “serious single-car accident” that happened on Sunday morning.

Frank Mariani was the longtime business partner of later Lakers owner Jerry Buss , both whom initially worked together in real estate in the 1950′s before eventually purchasing the Los Angeles Strings and San Diego Friars, respectively, of World Team Tennis.

The rest of Mariani’s family have other roles with the Lakers. Nicholas was the son of Associate Director of the Lakers Youth Foundation Roberta Mariani, nephew of Director of Corporate Partnerships Francis Mariani, and brother of Development Coordinator Anthony Mariani. Nicholas, who was also considered a Lakers employee, had two sisters.

The Lakers say funeral services are pending.

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

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Mike D’Antoni plans to stick with Pau Gasol-Chris Kaman tandem

All the fears that Mike D’Antoni holds regarding a post-oriented lineup unfolded before his very eyes.

Instead of Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman providing an unstoppable one-two tandem as they had always envisioned, the Lakers’ 124-112 loss Tuesday to the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center featured Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol combining for only 21 points on a 10 of 25 clip. Instead of Gasol and Kaman leaning on their versatility and basketball intelligence to offset the lack of floor spacing without a stretch forward, the Lakers offense only stayed alive because of an efficient Nick Young (40 points) and Steve Nash (10 assists). Instead of their height offering enough rim protection to improve the Lakers’ deeply-rooted defensive problems, Kaman and Gasol played a large part in Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge posting 31 points on 12 of 20 shooting and the Trail Blazers punishing their double teams with a 13 of 29 clip.

“We’re pretty slow footed when we’re out there,” D’Antoni said. “That’s the thinking before, and it probably hasn’t changed much.”

Yet, even amid Gasol and Kaman failing to reward D’Antoni’s slow embrace toward starting them after mostly resisting the combination all season, the coach who places a high premium on three-point shooting, guard play and a fast tempo said he will likely stick with the same tandem for Wednesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena.

“It’s hard to do one thing one night and then {change],” D’Antoni said. “You start chasing your tail. We’ll probably stick with it. I’m sure Pau will have a better outing as he gets over his vertigo and stuff. Then we’ll make that decision.”
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Five things to take from Lakers’ 124-112 loss to Portland Trail Blazers

Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 124-112 loss Tuesday over the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center:

1. The Lakers’ big lineup looked sluggish.
Blame Pau Gasol’s nine point effort on 4 of 9 shooting partly on rustiness and a lack of energy stemmed from a four-game absence because of vertigo. Chalk up Chris Kaman’s 12 points on 6 of 16 shooting partly on fatigue. But even if both players have versatile skillsets, Gasol and Kaman did not state a great case in convincing a skeptical Mike D’Antoni that he should start them together.

The concerns had little to do with their offensive production and everything surrounding their defense. The lack of foot speed Gasol and Kaman possessed played a large part in Portland tallying XX points in the paint. Even with the Lakers doubling on LaMarcus Aldrdige, he still scored 31 points on an 12 of 20 clip. When he wasn’t scoring off of those double teams, Portland made the Lakers pay with deadly three-point shooting (13 of 29 from the field). That is why D’Antoni soon went with Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly for chunks of the second half.

Of course, the Lakers have played atrocious defense all season, regardless of the 33 lineups they have fielded because of overlapping injuries and inconsistency. But consider the Lakers’ 107-106 victory last month in Portland where the team’s small ball lineup helped secure the victory. Though the Lakers did not offer a defensive clinic, they were able to use their speed, athleticism and effort to offset the inevitable size disadvantage. That element also contributed toward Aldridge’s 21 points coming on only 9 of 19 shooting.

2. Nick Young provided a signature Swaggy P performance. This marks one of those games Young could never take enough shots. He posted a season-high 40 points on 15 of 26 shooting where he made nearly everything imaginable, an effort that fell short of his career-high 43 points against Sacramento on 2011 with Washington. Young sank his first eight shots. After showing visible pain on his recently sore right knee off of a putback, Young fought back on the next possession and sank a 3-pointer with ease. Later in the fourth quarter, Young made a putback after falling on the ground and converted on a reverse dunk.

The fact that Young went on a scoring binge isn’t surprising. He remains one of the few players on the Lakers that can create his own shot. But Young provided his usual job description by feeding off of the Lakers’ crisp ball movement and feeding off of his own rhythm.

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Lakers to build independently owned practice facility

The Lakers plan to build a modern practice facility in El Segundo that they hope will attract future free agents and give them more room to run their day-to-day operations.

The Lakers announced on Tuesday that they entered an agreement with CDC Mar Campus, LLC to purchase a five acre undeveloped portion at Campus El Segundo near the northwest corner of Mariposa Avenue and Douglas Street. It’s not clear when construction will take place or finish, but the completion of the purchase hinges on the City of El Segundo’s approval.

The Lakers currently practice at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo that is shared with the NHL’s Kings and a skating rink often open to the general public. The Lakers would own their future facility and would have more room to accommodate their day-to-day business and basketball operations. The Lakers’ current facility has only one basketball court and its office space is somewhat cramped. The Lakers’ marketing, ticketing, corporate sponsorships and community relations are located in a different building about a block away. The Lakers also have no sign of their logo outside of the building proclaiming their existence.

The Clippers opened a $60 million practice facility in Playa Vista in 2008 that includes two basketball courts, spacious offices and expansive video and weight rooms. They had practice before at Spectrum, an El Segundo health club, and L.A. Southwest College.

Part of the Lakers’ thought process entails wanting to have another mechanism to attract free agents. But it is unclear if the new facility will be built in time for the 2015 free agent class that includes Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.

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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