Lakers’ Byron Scott believes he can hold firm on limiting Kobe Bryant’s minutes


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The smile widened as Byron Scott talked about Kobe Bryant. Scott’s eyes lit up as he recalled mentoring Bryant his rookie year during the 1996-97 season, sensing then that Bryant was already “something special” with his strongly developed game, unmatched work ethic and inquisitive curiosity about NBA history. Scott gushed about Bryant organizing informal workouts this summer with a handful of teammates.

Underneath all of those positive vibes revealed Scott’s unrelenting optimism on how Bryant will actually perform in the 2013-14 season. Scott chuckled at all the doubt surrounding Bryant, who lasted only six games last season because of overlapping left Achilles and left ankle injuries.

“I see a guy who’s going to average 20 something points a game, will have a great year and have a lot of people eating crow,” Scott said Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper. “I’m glad people are saying [otherwise]. Keep adding it. It motivates him that much more. It makes my job easier.”

Yet, Scott’s job as the Lakers coach will hardly be easy. He will oversee a team that finished last season with the worst record in L.A. franchise history. Scott will have to bolster a defense that 29th in points allowed (109.2), 24th in defensive field goal percentage (46.8) and 30th in fast-break points allowed (16.7). And Scott will also have to put his strong relationship with Bryant to good use, finding the right balance in leaning on Bryant’s expertise and skillset without overly taxing his 36-year-old body.

Scott reported Bryant as fully healthy from his left knee injury and looked impressed with his offseason workouts. Yet, Scott said he will have to limit Bryant. He will probably sit out in the second practice of the three two-a-day sessions Scott tentatively has scheduled once training camp begins in three weeks. Bryant will likely skip select regular-season practices so he can receive additional rest and treatment. Scott also conceded the possibility that Bryant will either miss the second night of back-to-back games, or face reduced minutes the first game so he can play the following night.

“The key is our communication,” Scott said. “Kobe knows me pretty well and I know him pretty well. I know how stubborn he is. He knows how stubborn I am. There’s going to be times we’re butting heads. But it’s all because we want to win. But I also don’t want to play a guy like Kobe in game 58 just to get that win and then risk his health for game 82 when we have a chance to go into the playoffs. I have to be real smart that I stick to my guns as far as minutes are concerned even if it costs us a game or two.”
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Jeremy Lin pretends to pose as a wax figure

Fans eagerly sat or stood by what they considered Jeremy Lin’s wax figure at the Madame Tussauds in San Francisco, posing for pictures to make it appear they actually rubbed elbows with the Lakers’ newly acquired point guard.

Those fans soon realized they actually were. Lin either moved or spoke, scaring, surprising and amusing fans who fell for his still movements that suggested he was the wax figure.

Question marks remain on whether Lin can restore “Linsanity” to the Lakers, or at least become a pretty consistent back-up or starter to complement a possibly ailing Steve Nash. But Lin has made it abundantly clear he loves to pull pranks on people. Lin recorded a dunk cam that showed up posterizing on random fans and his mom. Lin surprised his mother on her birthday by drenching her with cake. And his latest prank where he pretended to pose as his wax figure even surprised other family members.

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

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Byron Scott says Xavier Henry not fully recovered from injuries

"Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) "

“Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) “

The Lakers have yet to play a game, but they are still fielding less than a fully healthy roster.

In a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper, Lakers coach Byron Scott said forward Xavier Henry “might be limited in training camp” because of a surgically repaired left wrist and right knee that have not fully healed.

“I haven’t seen him do much on the court,” Scott said. “It’s going to be close on if he’s ready for camp.”
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Byron Scott’s staff to include son, Thomas, Larry Lewis, Paul Pressey

Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Nearly three weeks await before the Lakers begin training camp, leaving Byron Scott not much time to put the finishing touches on finalizing his coaching staff.

In a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper on Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, Scott said he has added his son, Thomas, Larry Lewis and Paul Pressey to his staff that already included Jim Eyen and Mark Madsen.

Thomas and Lewis will serve as the assistant/player development coaches, while Eyen, Pressey and Madsen will have an elevated role as assistants. Scott did not specify which coach was considered his lead assistant.

“I’ll be the lead,” Scott said, laughing.

Scott also confirmed an ESPN report that suggested he may hire Igor Kokoskov, who has been an assistant coach with the Serbian national team as well as with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2013-14), Phoenix Suns (2008-13) Detroit Pistons (2003-08) and Clippers (2000-03).

“I’ve talked to a couple of guys, one in particular that is from overseas,” Scott said. “That is not definitive. But I have met with him.”
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Nick Young plays pickup basketball in New York City

The step back jumper and Nick Young’s acrobatic celebration afterwards looked familiar. The setting and circumstances in which “Swaggy P” provided more entertainment did not.

After providing doses of feel-good moments in the Lakers’ otherwise disastrous season with prolific scoring and an infectious personality, Young carried those qualities over to New York City in a pick-up basketball game. As shown above on his Instagram account, Young still wore street clothes in what he said involved an impromptu appearance.

“Lol surprise some lil hoopers while driving thru these NY streets,” Young wrote. “Decided to stop and join they 3 on 3 … I had to swag on them tho.”


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

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Robert Horry most impressed with Lakers’ 2001 championship team

For a player has won more championships than Kobe Bryant and every member of the Showtime Lakers, Robert Horry can be fairly choosy on which NBA title team he considers the most impressive.

Does Horry most marvel at the Lakers’ winning their third consecutive championship in 2002 partly because of his game winner in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings? Or does Horry mostly relish the Rockets’ 1995 championship team for repeating despite entering the playoffs as only a sixth seed?

Apparently neither. Among his seven NBA championships, Horry zeroed in on the Lakers’ 2001 championship squad that went 15-1 during the postseason. Then, the Lakers’ lone loss happened in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“That will never be accomplished again,” Horry said in a recent interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet, where he serves as a studio analyst. You shoul dhave looked at us after we lost our first game in Philly. We were so disappointed that we couldn’t sweep everyone in the playoffs.

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How should Lakers handle roles for Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin?

Steve Nash talks about the disappointing season and his future following his Lakers exit interview at their training facility in El Segundo, CA on Thursday, April 17, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Steve Nash talks about the disappointing season and his future following his Lakers exit interview at their training facility in El Segundo, CA on Thursday, April 17, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

The question would seem preposterous under normal circumstances. Considering Steve Nash’s two NBA MVP’s, third place standing on the league’s all-time assists list and a sure lock for the Hall of Fame, why has a debate emerged on whether Nash should start during the 2014-15 season?

The answer is simple. Nash played in only 15 games last season amid persisting issues with his back and hamstrings, stemmed from a nerve root irritation that remains sensitive toward any awkward movement or contact. The Lakers say Nash has recovered considerably, but they acquired Jeremy Lin in a trade from Houston partly to provide reinforcements for a possibly limited Nash.

So how should the Lakers handle their point guard spot? In a recent appearance on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, host Chris McGee, analyst Dave Miller and I discussed that very topic in a video segment here.

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

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How will Ryan Kelly fit under Byron Scott’s system?

The Lakers’ Ryan Kelly and Nick Young celebrate a shot late in the 4th quarter The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Lakers 120 to 118 in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center. Los Angeles, CA January 14, 2014.(John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News)

The Lakers’ Ryan Kelly and Nick Young celebrate a shot late in the 4th quarter The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Lakers 120 to 118 in a regular season NBA game at Staples Center. Los Angeles, CA January 14, 2014.(John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News)

To think, just a year ago questions persisted on whether Ryan Kelly would actually land on a Lakers’ roster.

Kelly still faced a lengthy rehabilitation process on a right foot injury that sidelined him for the entire 2013 offseason and parts of training camp. With the Lakers selecting him 48th overall in the 2013 NBA draft, Kelly had a non-guaranteed contract. Yet, the Lakers’ overlapping injuries, Mike D’Antoni’s open-court offense and Kelly’s work ethic and smarts as a stretch forward led to a consistent spot on the rotation.

All of that spurred the Lakers to sign Kelly to a two-year deal worth around $3.5 million. But how will Kelly build on that foundation in his second season? Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet host Chris McGee, analyst Dave Miller and I addressed that subject during part of Wednesday’s show noting the Lakers’ various offseason developments.

Miller, who served as an assistant under Byron Scott with New Orleans from 2005 to 2007, mentioned that Scott’s Princeton-based offense will tap into Kelly’s strong principles in shooting, passing and cutting. I mentioned how Kelly could still encounter some challenges by virtue of a more loaded frontcourt that features Julius Randle, Jordan Hill, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis. We both highlighted how Kelly’s efforts to improve his strength, including taking MMA training, could help bolster his physical presence inside.

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

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Steve Nash remains on Lakers after stretch provision deadline

Steve Nash arrives to talk about the disappointing season and his future following his Lakers exit interview at their training facility in El Segundo, CA on Thursday, April 17, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Steve Nash arrives to talk about the disappointing season and his future following his Lakers exit interview at their training facility in El Segundo, CA on Thursday, April 17, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Despite a tumultuous two-year stretch in which he has taken more visits to the trainer’s room than the basketball court, Steve Nash will remain on the Lakers’ roster. The deadline for the Lakers to use the so-called stretch provision passed over the weekend, ensuring that Nash will finish out the final year of his contract worth $9.7 million.

This development is hardly surprising. The Lakers leaned toward retaining Nash ever since last season, mindful that waiving him would compromise the team’s financial flexibility since it would owe a third of his salary for the following three seasons. The Lakers would have only gone down this route had they acquired LeBron James and/or Carmelo Anthony and would need to clear up immediate cap space. Despite Nash’s Hall-of-Fame credentials, he does not hold much trade value because of his tenuous health. Once it became official that James would go to Cleveland and Anthony would stay in New York, Nash’s future appeared cemented with the Lakers.
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Kobe Bryant featured in NBA Live 15 trailer

So much for all the talk that Kobe Bryant will play conservatively this season in hopes to delay Father Time. The NBA Live 15 trailer that was released on Tuesday showcases Bryant where he is aggressively driving to the basket. Bryant then makes a sweeping underhanded left-handed layup while drawing contact from his defenders, the kind of difficult shot that Bryant has continuously perfected.

Yet, the conventional wisdom suggested Bryant would play differently after playing in only six games last season because of overlapping injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left ankle, Bryant will play heavily in the post where he can showcase his fundamentals. With the help of Lakers coach Byron Scott, Bryant will play far fewer minutes than the 38 minutes he had averaged in the two previous seasons before his injuries. Bryant will also become more of a facilitator both to ensure a balanced offense and to ease the burden.

Perhaps.

Yet, Bryant may become both determined to score by attacking the basket. Both to prove he still has plenty left in the tank and to help his team win.

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

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