Lakers’ Byron Scott could make lineup changes against Boston

Byron Scott

A Sunday matchup between the Lakers and Celtics usually meant a few things.

The NBA would showcase a nationally televised game that featured its fiercest rivalry based on plenty of star power and physical play. The game would also serve as an NBA Finals preview. Yet, when the Lakers (13-41) host the Boston Celtics (20-32) on Sunday at Staples Center, none of those elements will emerge.

Instead, the most captivating storyline could entail which starting lineup Lakers coach Byron Scott will showcase. Scott conceded there are “one or two things I’m thinking about doing,” before declining to reveal those contingency plans.

“It’s a little bit of a gut feeling and things I want to see,” Scott said. “Try to see if I can get more of a chemistry with certain guys working with other guys.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott praise Carlos Boozer, Wesley Johnson for handling DNP

The Los Angeles Lakers held a press conference to announce the addition of Carlos Boozer to the team Friday, July 25, 2014, El Segundo, CA. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

The Los Angeles Lakers held a press conference to announce the addition of Carlos Boozer to the team Friday, July 25, 2014, El Segundo, CA. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

The demotion to the bench earlier this season once seemed so beneath Lakers forward Carlos Boozer. The two-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist openly questioned Lakers coach Byron Scott publicly, while refusing to address him about it privately.

But when Boozer sat because of a coach’s decision in the Lakers’ 114-105 loss on Friday to the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center, the 12-year NBA veteran handled the matter completely differently. Boozer talked to reporters, but declined to question Scott’s rotation. Scott then reported that Boozer approached him about it afterwards.

Scott reported Boozer expressed concern that his absence during Wednesday’s practice after the All-Star break because of transportation problems returning from his hometown in Miami influence his eventual DNP.

“It’s never personal with me. “I never play guys because I’m mad,” Scott said on Saturday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “I don’t hold no grudges because of that. If you can help me win games, I’ll put you on the court. I don’t have to like you at all. But that’s not the case with Carlos.”

Instead, Scott explained that Boozer’s absence stemmed from something else. Scott wanted to play Jordan Hill off the bench after missing the previous five games because of a right hip flexor. Scott also became curious with how Hill would fare with forward Ed Davis. The pair combined for 28 points and 24 rebounds, and represented a fourth-quarter unit that nearly chipped away at the Nets’ 22-point lead. Yet, Scott suggested Boozer’s absence likely will not become prolonged.

“I just told him it was something I was trying to experiment with and it didn’t go the way I expected it to go,” Scott said. “I wasn’t happy with it. It probably won’t happen again.”

The same applies to Wesley Johnson, who also sat because of a coach’s decision while Ryan Kelly (12 points on 4 of 8 shooting) and Nick Young (five points on 2 of 9 shooting) played at small forward.

“Wes was good, too,” Scott said. “I told him the same thing. It was something I was trying.”

Scott normally does not explain his thought process directly to players about his rotations. He only does so when reporters ask him. Or if players approach him. Young talked with Scott after the Lakers’ forward sat last month in New York despite receiving medical clearance from a sprained right ankle. Jeremy Lin also spoke with Scott both after losing his starting point guard spot 20 games into the 2014-15 season and when he sat during Jordan Clarkson’s starting debut because of a coach’s decision.

But Scott has occasionally differed from his approach. He alerted veteran guard Ronnie Price two weeks ago he would sit up until the All-Star break partly to heal from a sprained right elbow. Scott also decided to circle back with Boozer and Johnson, both of whom had declined to complain about their absence.

“Because of those two guys, and the respect I have for them is the only reason I told them that,” Boozer said. “This is what I did last night and this is the reason why. I don’t have to explain to why I’m doing it. Carlos has been great a true professional. So I thought, Let me tell you what I’m doing and why I did it and we’ll just go from there.”

RELATED:

Lakers’ Carlos Boozer downplays D-N-P in 114-105 loss to Brooklyn

Lakers miss out on Goran Dragic, who would still consider L.A. in offseason

Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak stresses he won’t “jeopardize” financial flexibility, youth in offseason rebuild

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 said Julius Randle “definitely” playing in Summer League

Rookie forward Julius Randle is eager to show the Lakers they made a smart choice by taking him seventh in the NBA Draft in June. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

Rookie forward Julius Randle is eager to show the Lakers they made a smart choice by taking him seventh in the NBA Draft in June. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

A mark of the sign of the Lakers’ current demise that coach Byron Scott suddenly looked ahead to the team’s summer league squad in mid-February. But Scott revealed something far more notable than anything surrounding when the Lakers (13-41) host the Boston Celtics (20-32) at Staples Center. Scott said that Lakers rookie forward will “definitely” play on the Lakers’ 2015 Las Vegas Summer League team.

The Lakers’ summer league team will also feature rookie guard Jordan Clarkson and up to four rookies, including a possible top-five pick, a mid first-round pick and two possible second-round selections.

“I already told Julius and Jordan,’” Scott said, “you guys should dominate.”
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Lakers’ Carlos Boozer downplays D-N-P in 114-105 loss to Brooklyn

Head coach Byron Scott of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to Carlos Boozer #5 during their game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on November 1, 2014 in Oakland, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Head coach Byron Scott of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to Carlos Boozer #5 during their game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on November 1, 2014 in Oakland, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A man who once won an Olympic gold medal and appeared in two All-Star games suddenly sat on the bench as part of an unexpected coach’s decision.

Yet, Lakers forward Carlos Boozer consistently declined to question coach Byron Scott for sitting in the Lakers’ 114-105 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday at Staples Center.

“Byron knows what he’s doing,” Boozer said. “We follow suit and we follow what he does.”

Lakers forward Wesley Johnson also fell out of the rotation. He was available to reporters afterwards, but was not around once Scott’s press conference ended.

Scott chalked up the new developments to Jordan Hill playing in his first game after missing the previous five because of a sore right hip flexor. Scott also wanted to pair forward Ed Davis with Hill, a pairing that combined for 28 points and 24 rebounds off the bench.

“I didn’t tell them,” Scott said. “It was a spur of the moment thing.”

Scott sounded skeptical he would field the same lineup, noting he “didn’t like the results of tonight.” Scott also said half jokingly, “I might change the whole starting five” after seeing the Nets outscore the Lakers, 40-20, in the third quarter.

Yet, Boozer’s development seemed notable for a few reasons. Boozer had questioned Scott after he demoted him as a starter to a reserve for defensive reasons 20 games into the season. Boozer has averaged 12.5 point son 51.6 percent shooting and seven rebounds in 24.8 minutes per game.

“If he’s upset, he’s upset,” Scott said. “But am I concerned about that? Not really. I think he’ll handle it as a professional. But if he doesn’t, its not going to bother me.”

Well, Boozer quickly dismissed any possibility of this becoming a problem.

“I’ve been a good teammate to my teammates,” Boozer said, “cheering my teammates on and thought we had a chance to win the game at the end. We had a shot.”

Although Boozer questioned Scott’s demotion earlier in the season, he maintained his outwardly positive demeanor. Lakers officials and teammates alike routinely praise Boozer for his enthusiasm that includes celebratory gestures following big plays and complimenting others.

“I just hoop,” Boozer said. “I don’t think about that stuff like you guys do. When I go out there, I do the best I can.”

RELATED:

Lakers miss out on Goran Dragic, who would still consider L.A. in offseason


Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak stresses he won’t “jeopardize” financial flexibility, youth in offseason rebuild

Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak says he has same authority under Jim & Jerry Buss

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’ Mitch Kupchak stresses he won’t “jeopardize” financial flexibility, youth in offseason rebuild

LA Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak will be the leader of the Lakers’ search for a new coach.. (File photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze)

LA Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak will be the leader of the Lakers’ search for a new coach.. (File photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze)

The Lakers want to win as many NBA championships as possible. So does Kobe Bryant.

But Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak strongly suggested on Friday that he will place higher priority this offseason on protecting the team’s financial flexbility and youth long-term interests than ensuring Kobe Bryant a good enough roster to win an NBA championship next season. Then, Bryant will return following a season-ending right shoulder injury in what would likely mark the end of a storied 20-year NBA career.

“At some point we have to start a new run, and that’s definitely going to include Kobe next year,” Kupchak said on Friday with a small panel of reporters that regularly cover the Lakers. “To jeopardize the next five or seven years – I’m maybe getting ahead of myself – bring in old veterans that make a lot of money, just to win one more year, because that’s Kobe’s last year or could be his last year, I’m not sure that fits into doing it the right way.”
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Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak says he has same authority under Jim & Jerry Buss

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said on Friday that executive Jim Buss gives him the same authority he had under former Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Photo credit: Scott Varley, Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said on Friday that executive Jim Buss gives him the same authority he had under former Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Photo credit: Scott Varley, Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak holds Magic Johnson in high regards for obvious reasons.

Johnson proved instrumental in delivering five NBA championships to the Lakers during the Showtime Era. Johnson also famously told former Lakers owner Jerry Buss to sign acquire Kupchak after once playing for the Washington Bullets. But Kupchak tactfully disagreed with Magic Johnson’s recent criticism of vice president of player personnel Jim Buss for not giving Kupchak enough autonomy to run the Lakers’ basketball operations.

“I have the same authority I had with Dr. Buss,” Kupchak said on Friday, referring to the Lakers’ former owner that passed away in Feb. 2013. “Jerry West had the same authority as Dr. Buss. I have got that same authority with Jimmy. Jimmy and I work very closely together. He does not make decisions in a vacuum. For some reason, he gets a lot of the criticism and maybe that comes along with the transition from an owner like Dr. Buss. But that’s not fair.”

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Lakers’ players relieved after trade deadline passes

Nick Young of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles while chatting with youngsters during the Nick Young Youth Summer Basketball Camp at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, CA July 18, 2014.(Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)"

Nick Young of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles while chatting with youngsters during the Nick Young Youth Summer Basketball Camp at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, CA July 18, 2014.(Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)”

The anxiety heightened as soon as the Lakers informed Nick Young and Jordan Hill about some possible unpleasant news.

In separate instances, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti approached Young and Lakers coach Byron Scott alerted Hill that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak wanted to speak with them. Aware that the Thursday’s trade deadline hovered over NBA every team, Young and Hill feared that meant only one thing. The Lakers just traded them.

Turns it out Vitti and Scott just successfully played the old-age hoax to have fun at the players’ insecurity. Despite the trade deadline featuring an NBA record 39 players dealt in various moves, the Lakers stayed put. Though the Lakers (13-40) have plenty of needs entering Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets (21-31) at Staples Center, they wanted to retain both their financial flexibility and future draft picks.

That left the Lakers’ players relieved that their job security remains intact for at least two more months.

“I thought J-Hill was gone, too,” Young said. “Fortunately they didn’t break any of us up.”

Hill stood outside the Lakers’ workout room, amused by Young’s shoutout. Soon enough, Young pleaded for Hill to approach reporters so Young could jokingly interview Hill as he has done many times in the locker room.

“How you doing today?” Young asked.

“I’m hanging in there, man,” Hill said with a smile on his face. “Feeling good.”

“They said the deadline is over,” Young said. “Are you a little relieved that you’re here?”

After all, Hill had posted career-numbers in points (12.3), rebounds (8) and minutes played (28). His two-year, $18 million contract also appeared attractive because any trading partner can decline his team option for next season.

“Man, you know, it’s a blessing,” Hill said. “Still here, still holding on by a thread.”

“But you here, though, right?” Young said.

“We still here,” Hill said. “Still going.”

“Kind of like ‘Ted’ at the end when [the teddy bear] got ripped in half?” Young asked.

“Yeah, he was hanging on by a thread,” Hill said.
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Lakers’ Nick Young spent Hawaiian vacation reuniting with dolphins, flying over volcano

Lakers#0 Nick Young shoots over Nuggets#7 J.J. Hickson in the 4th quarter. The Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 106-96 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA February 10, 2015.  (Photos by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers#0 Nick Young shoots over Nuggets#7 J.J. Hickson in the 4th quarter. The Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 106-96 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA February 10, 2015. (Photos by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers forward Nick Young traveled all the way to Hawaii to conquer his fear.

After reporting that he nearly died last summer in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico from a dolphin carrying him deep into the water, Young suddenly made peace with an animal known to be just as friendly as the Lakers’ eccentric forward.

“I got a chance to talk to the dolphins a little bit,” Young joked after Thursday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “We have a cool understanding. We stay away from each other and give each other a head nod.”
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Lakers’ Byron Scott confident in front office’s rebuilding plan

"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) “

After once talking to his team about championship aspirations, Lakers coach Byron Scott has experienced too many losses and absorbed too many injuries to make a pretty understandable conclusion.

“We need pieces at every position,” Scott said on Thursday after practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo.

Yet, the Lakers (13-40) did not make any moves leading into Thursday’s trade deadline. The Lakers expressed a “ton” of interest in guard Goran Dragic, according to an NBA source familiar with the situation. But the Phoenix Suns traded Dragic and his brother, Zoran, to the Miami Heat for Danny Granger, Justin Hamilton and two first-round picks. The Lakers, meanwhile, were unwilling to part ways with their own draft selections.

“It didn’t seem like anything was going to happen,” Scott said after having brief conversations with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. “So I don’t know how close it was. He didn’t give me an indication of that.”

They can keep a first-round pick owed to Phoenix as part of the Steve Nash deal if it lands in the top five. The Lakers also have a mid first-round pick stemmed from the Jeremy Lin trade. And with Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Ryan Kelly and Julius Randle as the lone players under contract next season, the Lakers will have enough money to sign a marquee free agent to a maximum-level salary.

All of that prompted Scott say, “I have a lot of faith” in Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss in rebuilding the roster this summer.

“I believe in Jim and believe in Mitch,” Scott said. “The game plan they showed in me months ago, I believe in that. It’s going to take us some time. We know it’s going to be a process. You just have to stick to your guns.”
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Lakers make no moves after trade deadline passes

LA Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak talks to reporters about the upcoming 2013-14 season from their training facility in El Segundo. (Wed. Sept. 25, 2013. Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

LA Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak talks to reporters about the upcoming 2013-14 season from their training facility in El Segundo. (Wed. Sept. 25, 2013. Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze

The Lakers (13-40) have plenty of holes in their roster, but the team declined to address any of them leading into Thursday’s trade deadline.

The Lakers showed a “ton” of interest Phoenix guard Goran Dragic before he was eventually traded to the Miami Heat. But the Lakers “just didn’t have assets,” according to an NBA source familiar with the discussions. The Lakers also wanted to ensure that they both maintain their cap space for the free agency sweepstakes in July as well as their draft picks.
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