Kobe Bryant, Byron Scott amused by ESPN’s 40th ranking

"Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014.  (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)"

“Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)”

A smirk formed on Kobe Bryant’s face. Then, the Lakers star chuckled.

A panel of ESPN media members ranked Bryant as the 40th-best NBA player. If Bryant found his 25th ranking last year “silly” and “laughable,” which adjectives will the Lakers star use to express his disgust about his latest standing?

“I’ve known for a long time they’re a bunch of idiots,” Bryant said.

A smile widened on Byron Scott’s face. Then, the Lakers’ coach shook his head trying to process it all.

What does Scott make of Bryant’s ranking after professing his rookie year that he would soon become the NBA’s best player?

“I think he probably gets a kick out of it. I do too,” Scott said. “I would hate to be one of the guys who doubted him.”
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Lakers’ Steve Nash out vs. Jazz

ANAHEIM — Steve Nash may have sat out for the past three practices. He may have experienced more back spasms after carrying bags. Yet, the Lakers’ 40-year-old point guard hoped to play tonight against the Utah Jazz at Honda Center in Anaheim.

“I’m going to try,” Nash said as he left the Lakers’ locker room.

The effort was unsuccessful.

The Lakers had expected Nash to sit. But Lakers coach Byron Scott recalled receiving a text message from Lakers trainer Gary Vitti about Nash’s intentions. Scott had not spoken to Nash prior to the coach’s media session about 90 minutes before the 7 p.m. tipoff time. But it appears likely that Lakers veteran guard Ronnie Price will start while Nash plays in limited minutes off the bench.

“Any coach would be hesitant if my player says my back is hurting and now I can play,” Scott said. “I’m going to trust him if he thinks he can play. I’m going to put him out there and see what he can do.”

Lakers guard Jeremy Lin will also sit out tonight because of a sprained left ankle that has kept him limited in the past week. Lin will likely play Sunday against Utah at Staples Center after advancing to conditioning drills in recent days.


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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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Dahntay Jones doubts Kobe Bryant will seek revenge for past injury

Plenty of internal and external motivation surrounds Kobe Bryant.

He enters the 2014-15 season trying to prove he can overcome two serious injuries in the past year through unmatched fundamentals and conservative playing time. With ESPN releasing today their No. 40 overall ranking for Bryant, that will likely fuel his drive even more. But when the Lakers host the Utah Jazz tonight at the Honda Center in Anaheim, will Bryant exact revenge on Jazz forward Dahntay Jones nearly 19 months after falling on his foot and spraining his left ankle?

Bryant suggested as such on March, 13, 2013 when he expressed frustration that he landed on Jones’ foot just as he landed. But in an interview with this newspaper, Jones sounded skeptical that will happen when the two face off against each other for the first time since that injury.

“Not for me. I don’t think it does for him, either,” Jones said following the Jazz’s morning shootaround at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “He has bigger goals he’s dealing with throughout the course of the season. He’s trying to get back. That’s on the top of his list.”
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Kobe Bryant ranked 40th best NBA player by ESPN

"Lakers Kobe Bryant is surrounded by the media as the LA Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014.  (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)"

“Lakers Kobe Bryant is surrounded by the media as the LA Lakers host their annual Media Day in El Segundo, CA. Monday September 29, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)”

Kobe Bryant will love to read this.

Sure, he will likely roll his eyes and seethe at a panel of ESPN media members ranking him 40th overall. If Bryant found his 25th ranking last year “silly” and “laughable,” which adjectives will the Lakers star use to express his disgust for sliding down to the 40th spot? Yet, this only serves as red meat for Bryant, feeding his insatiable appetite for external criticism and doubt to keep his inner drive running at an octane level.

Of course, whether that happens remains to be seen. Bryant played only six games last season because of recurring injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee. It’s safe to say Bryant’s low rankings partly reflect the 36-year-old entering his 19th NBA season with such heavy baggage. It also does not help the Lakers finished last season with the season’s worst record in L.A. franchise history and enter the 2014-15 season laced with question marks about the team’s health, defense and overall talent level.

Yet, the Lakers and Bryant have both maintained he can both stay healthy and effective by playing a more deliberate game that focuses on footwork, post moves and fundamentally sound play. Will that catapult Bryant back to the NBA elite? Amid the skepticism, Bryant will certainly try.

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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’ Byron Scott reports agreeing with Kobe Bryant minute restriction

Lakers coach Byron Scott said he and Kobe Bryant have agreed upon how many minutes he will play in the 2014-15 season. Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)"

Lakers coach Byron Scott said he and Kobe Bryant have agreed upon how many minutes he will play in the 2014-15 season. Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)”

It appears Kobe Bryant and Lakers coach Byron Scott have accomplished something critical that further suggests their close relationship will help the team overcome rocky waters.

Scott reported after Wednesday’s practice that the two agreed upon how many minutes the Lakers’ star will play in the 2014-15 season.

“His number was lower than mine,” Scott said after Wednesday’s practice at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “That surprised me. It helped me as well.”

Scott would not divulge specifics other than Bryant will play “between 30 and 40″ minutes per game. But it’s safe to assume Scott will strive for Bryant to play fewer than the 38 minutes he averaged in the two previous seasons before tearing his left Achilles more than 18 months ago.

Scott said he and Bryant have not discussed whether he would sit in any games, including on back-to-back nights, after playing in only six games last season because of overlapping left Achilles and left knee injuries. Bryant has averaged 11.3 points on 36.1 percent shooting in 22.3 minutes through three exhibitions.

“He wants to play every game,” Scott said. “He wants to play every preseason game and every regular season game.”

Bryant did not speak to reporters following Wednesday’s practice. But he has publicly said he is fine with any minute restriction. Bryant and Scott have also believed they would have a fruitful partnership after Scott served as Bryant’s mentor during his rookie season with the Lakers’ nearly 18 years ago. Yet, there has been plenty of intrigue surrounding Bryant’s minutes considering his competitive nature in wanting to help the Lakers win.

“We came to an agreement on that,” Scott said. “We’re happy for that.”

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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’ Steve Nash experiences back spasms

Lakers guard Steve Nash experienced back spasms after carrying luggage (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

Lakers guard Steve Nash experienced back spasms after carrying luggage (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

The Lakers have barely played any games yet, but they already are witnessing Steve Nash suffer more injuries. Lakers coach Byron Scott said Nash experienced additional back spasms after carrying bags. After Nash missed his third consecutive practice on Wednesday, Scott ruled Nash out of Thursday’s exhibition against the Utah Jazz in Anaheim.

Lakers guard Jeremy Lin completed shooting and conditioning drills on Wednesday, but said he will sit out of Thursday’s game as well because of a sprained left ankle that has limited him in the past week. That likely thrusts NBA veteran guard Ronnie Price into the Lakers’ starting lineup on Thursday versus Utah.

But about Nash’s future? He played only the first quarter of the Lakers’ preseason loss on Sunday against Golden State after asking out of the game. On Monday, Nash reported having a “sciatica problem,” which is related to nerve issues causing discomfort in his lower back. But he generally downplayed his injuries, which kept him out last season for all but 15 games. The 40-year-old Nash has one season left on his contract worth $9.8 million.

“It’s a concern,” Scott said. “I have to figure out if he will play every day or not or play every other game. How many games can he play and which games can he play. In the next couple of weeks, we have some time to come to a conclusion how we will handle this situation.”

The Lakers somewhat anticipated Nash experiencing injury issues. They acquired Lin in a trade from Houston, drafted guard Jordan Clarkson and acquired Price in hopes the Lakers would have more point guard depth. But has Nash’s latest development already forced Scott to operate without him?

“I haven’t gotten there yet,” Scott said. “In a couple of weeks, if the situation is the same, that’s the way I have to go.”

Scott said after Tuesdays’ practice that Nash’s recent absences have prompted him to consider featuring him as a reserve. It seems likely Scott would then start Lin, who has averaged 11.9 points and 4.8 assists through four NBA seasons. This situation has become less awkward since Nash and Lin have publicly said they are fine with any role.

“You don’t want to feel you’re stepping on anyone’s toes,” Lin said. “But he’s a professional. I try my best to be as well. At the end of the day, we both understand and have been around long enough that helps a season much more enjoyable.”

Part of that affection also stems from Nash’s credentials (two NBA MVPs, third overall on the league’s all-time assists list), work ethic and positive attitude.

“He’s always in the training room,” Lin said. “It sucks to watch it, and it’s tougher to go through it. He’s positive. Through it, he’s still a good influence and person to be around. He’s not moping around. He’s trying to help out anyway he can. Obviously we’re all hoping for the best with him.”

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Steve Nash’s health leaves Byron Scott pondering bench role

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 surprised about NBA’s 44-minute preseason game

"Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)"

“Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)”

The NBA may have found a solution for the Lakers both to reduce their double-digit losses and shorten playing time for Kobe Bryant.

The league will have the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics exhibition game on Sunday last 44 minutes with quicker timeouts, an experiment the NBA wants to assess the flow of a shorter game

“I’m kind of old school and used to 48 minutes,” Bryant said. “At this stage, I won’t complain if it’s less.”
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Kobe Bryant urges NBA players to fight for market value

"Kobe Bryant, right, of the Los Angeles Lakers, maintains possession as Klay Thompson, of the Golden State Warriors, defends during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)"

“Kobe Bryant, right, of the Los Angeles Lakers, maintains possession as Klay Thompson, of the Golden State Warriors, defends during a game on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)”

Kobe Bryant went on the offensive. But it had nothing to do with going on a scoring binge. It had everything to do with challenging NBA players both to fight for their market value and expose the hypocrisy surrounding NBA owners.

“We are overpaid,” Bryant said Tuesday, shortly less than a year after signing with the Lakers to a two-year, $48.5 million extension. “But at the same time, so are the owners, and you have to fight for what your market value is.”

Bryant shared his frustration on Twitter last week shortly after the NBA announced a record-breaking nine-year television contract with ESPN and Turner Broadcasting worth a reported $24 billion, an amount the Lakers’ star saying is “almost being a billion dollars up over the previous one.” Bryant wrote on Twitter that “players are ‘encouraged’ per new CBA to take less to win or risk being called selfish+ungrateful.”

How so?

“You’re supposed to do what’s right. Business is business. I think people get that confused very easily and understanding that players should take less than their market value, substantially less than their market value in order to win championships,” Bryant said. “It’s very easy to look at the elite players around the league and look at the amount of money they get paid and compare that with the average. But we don’t look at what the owners get paid, how much revenue they generate off the backs of these players.”
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Steve Nash’s health leaves Byron Scott pondering bench role

File photo: Los Angeles Lakers' Steve Nash, right, passes off the ball as Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Pauldefends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

File photo: Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash, right, passes off the ball as Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Pauldefends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. (Danny Moloshok/The Associated Press file photo)

For every passing moment that Steve Nash experiences issues with his health, the more and more likely the Lakers coach Byron Scott will consider diminishing his role.

Nash missed his second consecutive practice on Tuesday after playing only the first quarter of the Lakers’ preseason loss on Sunday to Golden State before asking to sit. Nash did not speak to reporters on Tuesday. But he said on Monday experienced a “sciatica problem,” which refers to discomfort in the lower back. With Nash playing only 15 games last season amid persisting nerve irrititation in his back and hamstrings, will Lakers coach Byron Scott start either Jeremy Lin or Ronnie Price instead?

“I don’t know. That is something I’m definitely thinking about it,” Scott said on Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Is it in our best interest to start Jeremy or Ronnie or do we wait day by day, game by game? We’ll play these last five preseason games out. We’ll figure it out from there.”
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Ed Davis looking forward to a “fresh start” with Lakers

All the focus surrounding the Lakers centers on Kobe Bryant’s return. Or on Steve Nash’s health. Or on Byron Scott’s arrival as the Lakers’ head coach. Or on Julius Randle’s development as the Lakers’ prized rookie.

But the Lakers’ success or failure also hinges on how much they can revamp a defense that spent last season allowing teams to score instead of stopping them. So with two weeks into training camp, which Laker has emerged as the defender most capable of bolstering the team’s identity?

“Ed Davis. He’s the guy who has done the best job protecting the rim for us,” Scott said following Monday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “He’s also our best roller and screen setter.”

Perhaps you never heard of Davis. So here’s an introduction. He signed a two-year, $2 million deal this offseason with the Lakers, including a player option for his second season. The 25-year-old Davis averaged about five points and four rebounds in 15 minutes through two seasons with Memphis, a drop off when he netted a career-high 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 24.5 minutes in his third season in Toronto. As Bleacher Report recently noted, Davis has represented one of seven players to average at least 13 points on 53 percent shooting, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes.

In other words, Davis joins the Lakers riddled with both intriguing possibilities and question marks.

“This is more of a fresh start. Everything that happened before is behind me,” Davis said. “It’s about getting an opportunity and being in the right situation. I’ll do whatever I can to help a team win and provide energy off the bench.”
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