Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell not considered favorite to win rookie of the year

Lakers' D'Angelo Russell drives by Minnesota Timberwolves' Tyus Jones during the first half of NBA summer league game in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell drives by Minnesota Timberwolves’ Tyus Jones during the first half of NBA summer league game in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The Lakers’ consolation prize for another missed playoff appearance came in the form of drafting D’Angelo Russell. The 6-5, 195-pound guard out of Ohio State could both transform the Lakers into the modern NBA with a court vision and playmaking presence the organization has not seen since Magic Johnson.

Whether that becomes enough for Russell to bring back Showtime seems uncertain. But according to results on an NBA.com rookie survey, the majority of Russell’s class suggest that will not happen right away. At least not enough for Russell to win the NBA rookie of the year award.

A 41.9 percent plurality believe that honor will belong to Philadelphia center Jahlil Okafor, the elite big man the Lakers passed up in favor of Russell. Other favored candidates ahead of Russell include Detroit’s Stanley Johnson (19.4 percent) and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (12.9 percent). Russell finished in a tie for fourth place, sharing a 9.7 percent vote with Denver guard Emmanuel Mudiay.

If these survey results prove correct, a debate could emerge on whether the Lakers should have selected Okafor. After all, most NBA talent evaluators consider Okafor the most offensively skilled big man despite his poor free throw shooting. Yet, Okafor’s expected dominance next season could partly trace to Philadelphia’s barren roster.

Meanwhile, Russell will have to adjust sharing ball handling duties with Jordan Clarkson and Kobe Bryant (18.2 percent of rookies consider him their favorite player, behind Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant at 21.2 percent). After averaging 11.8 points on only 37.7-percent shooting and logging more turnovers (5.2) than assists (3.2) through five summer league games, Russell has also admitted he has to temper his decision making and pace.

Still, a 40 percent plurality voted Russell as the best playmaker in this year’s rookie class with Minnesota’s Tyus Jones (17.1 percent), Mudiay (14.3 percent) and Toronto’s Delon Wright (8.6 percent) following suit. For what it’s worth, Russell also finished third behind Brooklyn’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Charlotte’s Frank Kaminsky for most funniest.

Whether Russell makes the Lakers smile will depend on if he matches expectations as a playmaker and proves his contemporaries wrong about his rookie of the year award prospects.

RELATED:

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

Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson not satisfied with promising rookie season

D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson tandem gives Lakers hope for future

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 add backcourt depth with Frazier, a shooter from Florida

The Lakers have agreed to terms with University of Florida guard Michael Frazier II, according to agent Matt Ramker of ASM Sports.

The terms of the deal haven’t been released, but Frazier is expected to sign later this week.

“We’ve verbally agreed on the terms, but he’ll be in L.A. in the next handful of days to take his physical and sign his contract,” Ramker said.

The 6-foot-5 Frazier went undrafted, but played for the Golden State Warriors NBA Summer League entry. Frazier, known for his perimeter shooting, made 43 percent of his 3-pointers during three seasons at Florida. His 3-point percentage dipped to 38 percent during his junior season, when he averaged 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

Frazier labeled himself the “best shooter in the draft,” during a June predraft workout for the Lakers. Continue reading

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Lakers sign undrafted Texas forward Jonathan Holmes

The Lakers signed undrafted University of Texas forward Jonathan Holmes to a multi-year contract, General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced Thursday. Terms of the 6-foot-9, 22-year-old’s deal were not released.

Holmes, a four-year starter at Texas, was rewarded for a solid performance in the NBA Summer League, where he averaged 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds as a member of the Celtics’ entry. Holmes, who has good range for a physical player with a 240-pound body, shot 56 percent from the field and 46 percent from beyond the arc in eight summer league games.

The versatile forward from San Antonio was a solid, but not spectacular player in college, earning All-Big 12 second team honors and team MVP as a junior in 2013-14. Holmes’ junior season was his best for the Longhorns with averages of 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks on 51 percent shooting. He was All-Big 12 honorable mention as a senior, finishing with four-year career averages of 9.2 points and 5.9 rebounds.

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Lakers’ 2015-16 schedule not easy, but plenty interesting

The Lakers’ 2015-16 schedule largely reflects the team’s prospects after an offseason finally infused with some hope. Nothing figures to come easy – 17 of their first 24 games are on the road, including an eight-game road trip in December – but the intrigue is exemplified by a season-opener pitting Timberwolves overall No. 1 draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns against No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell at Staples Center.

Should next season be Kobe Bryant’s last, there will be plenty of interest beyond watching the development of youth the likes of Russell, Jordan Clarkson and a healthy Julius Randle. March 10 could be the last time Bryant and Lebron James share the same floor if Kobe retires following the April 13 regular season finale when his two-year, $48.5 million contract expires.

Coming off the worst season in franchise history, the schedule makers still consider the Lakers a draw. They will be on national television 28 times, including a Christmas day home game on ESPN against the Clippers, part of a marquee lineup that includes an NBA Finals rematch between the Cavaliers and Warriors
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2015-16 NBA schedule released: Top 10 Lakers matchups

Oct. 28: Timberwolves at Lakers
Season opener gives fans look at Russell vs Karl-Anthony Towns.

Nov. 24: Lakers at Warriors
Young Lakers visit defending NBA champions in hostile environment.

Nov. 29: Pacers at Lakers
Roy Hibbert’s first crack at the team who gave up on him.

Dec. 17: Rockets at Lakers
Laker fans relish chance to welcome Dwight Howard back to town.

Dec. 25: Clippers at Lakers
Lakers hoping 7-game losing streak to rival ends this season.

Jan. 8: Thunder at Lakers
D’ Angelo Russell will matchup with L.A. native Russell Westbrook

Feb. 4: Lakers at Pelicans
Start of brutal mid-season stretch including Spurs, Bulls, Grizzlies.

Feb. 19: Spurs at Lakers
Free agent target LaMarcus Aldridge returns as member of Spurs

March 10: Cavaliers at Lakers
Could be the last time Kobe, LeBron share the floor.

April 3: Celtics at Lakers
Lakers host historic rival to begin tough season-ending stretch.

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Lakers, Clippers will play each other on Christmas day

Despite the lopsided nature of the intracity rivalry, the Lakers and Clippers will play each other in a marquee setting this coming NBA season.

L.A.’s two basketball teams will face off at 7:30 p.m. Christmas day, according to the 2015-16 NBA schedule released Wednesday afternoon.

The Clippers have beaten the Lakers seven consecutive times. In fact. the Clippers’ lone loss over the past three years of the hallway series remains a 116-103 Lakers triumph in the 2013 season opener. The Lakers have not only lost 11 of their past 12 to the Clippers, those contests have been decided by a margin of nearly 20 points per game.
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Lakers D-League affiliate names second head coach this offseason

Former assistant Casey Owens was announced as the Los Angeles D-Fenders new head coach on Tuesday after the Lakers NBA Developmental League team’s initial choice departed shortly after he was hired.

Conner Henry was tabbed the D-Fenders head coach June 10, but accepted a position on the Orlando Magic coaching staff June 26. Owens, who has coached in China, Venezuela, the NBA D-League and the Continental Basketball Association, was a D-Fenders assistant in 2013-14.

“I want to thank (D-Fenders General Manager) Nick Mazzella, the Buss family and the entire organization for this opportunity,” Owens said. “I am excited to return to El Segundo and the NBA Development League and look forward to the challenge of helping assemble a team that will compete for a championship.”

Phil Hubbard lasted just one season as the D-Fenders head coach, finishing fourth in the West Division with a 17-33 record last year. The previous season, during which Owens was an assistant, the D-Fenders won the West Division with a 31-19 record before being swept out of the playoffs in the first round by a Santa Cruz Warriors team for which Hubbard was an assistant. Four D-Fenders earned call-ups during the 2013-14 campaign, including Manny Harris and Shawne Williams, who joined the Lakers.
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Chinese e-commerce giant signs Kobe to wide-ranging deal

Kobe Bryant’s international star got a little brighter today. Maybe more than a little.

Kobe Inc., has reached an agreement with a Chinese e-commerce giant to release Bryant’s autobiographical documentary and create a series of Kobe-branded products to distribute to its 350 million active buyers.

Alibaba Group Holding Limited will exclusively release Kobe Bryant’s Muse through its video platform, Tmall Magic Box, available beginning Aug. 8 for $1.29 (or 8 yuan). To promote the documentary, which first aired in the U.S. on Showtime in February, Alibaba Group and Sina will collaborate with Kobe Inc., to create a new social media platform that will connect “China’s young people directly to Kobe and his philosophies.”

“I believe there is power in understanding the journey of others to help create your own,” Bryant said in a press release. “This narrative is an intimate look at who I am as a person, not what I am. My dream is that others are inspired by my personal story and create epic life stories of their own.”
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James Worthy believes Kobe Bryant can play past current contract

Former Laker James Worthy, left, shown with Kobe Bryant during a recent media day, believes Bryant can play past his current contract. Photo credit: John McCoy / Staff Photographer

Former Laker James Worthy, left, shown with Kobe Bryant during a recent media day, believes Bryant can play past his current contract. Photo credit: John McCoy / Staff Photographer

The pain Kobe Bryant has felt in his body has at times become too overwhelming. He felt a kicking sensation just moments before tearing his left Achilles tendon. He felt tension in his left leg after colliding with Memphis’ Tony Allen. He felt an ache in his right shoulder right after throwing down a one-handed dunk that morphed into a torn labrum.

Yet, Bryant has willingly completed his lengthy rehabs that has entailed taking endless ice baths, antibiotics and rest all for the sake of accomplishing two things. So Bryant can return to the basketball court and prove he can both overcome a serious injury and play at an elite level. So he can further reach his quest that has driven him for his entire 19-year NBA career.

“I know Kobe wants six championships,” former Showtime Laker James Worthy said Monday on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Brian Geltzeiler and Stacey King. “I know he wants to tie Michael [Jordan]. Kobe is looking to six.”

Hence, the $25 million question entering the Lakers’ 2015-16 season entails whether Bryant can play out the final year of his contract without suffering another major injury. Yet, Worthy hardly believes this will mark Bryant’s official farewell tour.

“It depends on his body. The body can only take so much,” Worthy said. But if he can play less minutes and take less money, I think he would play some more. I don’t see him retiring until I see it.”

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Mitch Kupchak downplays Kobe Bryant not touching base with new teammates

The Lakers held a press conference on Wednesday to introduce new players, from left, center Roy Hibbert, guard Lou Williams and forward Brandon Bass. (Photo by Brad Graverson/staff)

The Lakers held a press conference on Wednesday to introduce new players, from left, center Roy Hibbert, guard Lou Williams and forward Brandon Bass. (Photo by Brad Graverson/staff)

A seemingly harmless question soon turned into a heavily scrutinized topic.

The Lakers’ newcomers in Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams and Brandon were all asked if Bryant touched base with them at all ever since joining the purple and gold. Hibbert shook his head ‘no.’ Williams and Bass continuously stared at Hibbert. Bass soon smiled over the awkward silence.

But instead of considering this a red flag in future team chemistry, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak represented one of many who found the incident amusing.

“It’s kind of comical and funny to be honest with you,” Kupchak said recently on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Brian Geltzeiler and Rick Mahorn. “It was a good moment in TV. They asked a question and the three players kind of looked at each other and kind of just shrugged their shoulders, ‘No.”

There have been countless free agents and draft prospects in recent seasons that mentioned in some variance of Bryant calling or texting to talk about getting ready for the upcoming season. Such examples included Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell. Yet, Kupchak argued “it’s not that unusual” Bryant declined to touch base with any of the team’s new arrivals.

“Kobe doesn’t call every single player we sign or trade for. I don’t even know if he’s in the country, to be honest with you,” Kupchak said, though Bryant attended FC Barcelona’s soccer practice last week in Los Angeles. “There was much made of it. But I thought it was kind of comical.”

RELATED:
Lakers’ Nick Young felt more assured about future after recent meeting with Mitch Kupchak
Kobe Bryant yet to touch base with new Lakers teammates
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak may add another guard or center to roster

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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