Will the Lakers win the Las Vegas Summer League championship?

One thing mostly drove the Lakers as they sought NBA supremacy both in play and entertainment value. That entailed winning an NBA championship, an instance that happened 11 of 16 times after Minneapolis moved its franchise to Los Angeles. So it should not be surprising that the Lakers’ next potential star outlined the team’s goal in Las Vegas Summer League this way.

“Just come home and win the whole thing,” Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball said. “Always come in with a winning attitude.”

Can the Lakers develop that winning attitude to bring home some championship hardware? In the latest episode of the “We Want Tacos” Lakers podcast, Ball, second-year forward Brandon Ingram, second-year center Ivica Zubac, rookie forward Kyle Kuzma, rookie shooting guard Josh Hart and Summer League coach Jud Buechler share their views on what will help them reach that goal.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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Lakers debate who was the best in recent paintball excursion

Lakers third-year forward Larry Nance Jr. hosted a paintball excursion with some of the Lakers’ recent draft picks. Photo courtesy of Larry Nance Jr.’s Instagram account.

EL SEGUNDO — The shots fired quickly out of their paintball guns. So did the verbal lobs when the Lakers debated who was the best paintball player on a recent excursion last weekend at the Hollywood Sports Paintball and Airsoft Park.

“I don’t want to brag about it. But I was the best one,” Lakers second-year center Ivica Zubac said following summer-league practice on Wednesday at the Lakers’ practice facility. “It was fun, and I’m looking forward to playing again.”

It wouldn’t be surprising if Zubac’s teammates want to play again soon. After all, plenty of them disagreed with Zubac’s scouting report surrounding his paintball game.

Nance hosted the outing with Zubac, second-year guard David Nwaba, rookie forward Kyle Kuzma, rookie guard Josh Hart and rookie center Thomas Bryant. Though that event served as an informal team-bonding activity, it shouldn’t be surprising Nance touted his supremacy over Zubac. Nance has done that ever since the Lakers selected Zubac with the 32nd pick of the 2016 NBA draft.

It wasn’t just Nance that questioned Zubac’s assertion, though.

“He’s lying; it wasn’t him,” Kuzma said when informed Zubac considered himself the best paintball player. “Josh Hart was pretty good. He’s solid. David Nwaba didn’t get hit once partly because he was hiding the whole time. That’s the whole objective.”

Hart reacted nearly the same way.

“Nah. That’s probably me,” Hart said. “Big Zu helped me out one time. I was trapped under a car. Someone was just laying it on me. I couldn’t move. So he kind of helped out there.”
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NBA free agency: Nick Young agrees to one-year deal, $5.2 million deal with Golden State Warriors

Nick Young agreed to a deal with the Golden State Warriors.
Photo By Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Even with a persona known for his high-volume shooting, eclectic clothing and taste for the spotlight, Nick Young has added a new wrinkle to the life of “Swaggy P.”

He has a good chance to land his first NBA ring. Young agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.2 million with the Golden State Warriors with their mid-level exception, according to agent Mark Bartelstein. Young also met with the Warriors on Saturday that also including going out with forward Draymond Green, an incident Green documented on his Snapchat account. Though he also sparked interest from the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans, Young prioritized championship ambitions over maximizing his salary and role.

“When the Warriors opportunity presented itself, the way they play and how the guys wanted him on the team, it was overwhelming for him,” Bartelstein said. “To have a chance to play for the Warriors, with the style they play, the way they share the ball, and how Steve Kerr and his players wanted him to be there, this is a great choice for him.”

Young opted out of his $5.7 million player option with the Lakers to become a free agent, hopeful that he could accomplish two things. With his four seasons with the Lakers coinciding with the organization’s worst stretch in its franchise history (91-237), Young became eager to join a playoff team. He also wanted to maximize his earnings, while retaining a significant role as a scorer.
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Lakers signed Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart to their rookie contracts

Lakers introduce 2017 first round draft pick Lonzo Ball of UCLA during press conference at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo Friday June 23, 2017. Lonzo Ball meets the media after being selected 2nd overall in NBA draft. Photo By Robert Casillas, Daily Breeze/ SCNG

The Lakers signed Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart to their rookie contracts on Monday.

As per the terms of the NBA collective bargaining agreement, Ball is slated to have a four-year deal worth $33 million. The terms for Kuzma and Hart were not immediately available. Rookie center Thomas Bryant is expected to sign his contract soon.

On Monday, the Lakers will also held their first practice for their Vegas Summer League in a closed session at their practice facility in El Segundo. After the 4th of July holiday on Tuesday, the Lakers plan to practice the rest of the week before going to Las Vegas for games on Friday (Clippers), Saturday (Boston) and Monday (Sacramento).

Ball will be the main headliner for the Lakers’ Summer League team, which will also feature second-year forward Brandon Ingram, second-year center Ivica Zubac, second-year guard David Nwaba, Kuzma, Hart and Bryant.

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Lakers must wait on Paul George after Pacers trade forward to Thunder

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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Can the Thunder keep Paul George from bolting to the Lakers?

The Lakers missed out on their most coveted target yet again. This time, though, the alternative provided more hope than gloom.

Despite – or perhaps because of – the Lakers’ repeated efforts to acquire Paul George, the Indiana Pacers traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder instead. That leads to one important question: is George a one-year rental before flocking to the Lakers, or can the Thunder hold onto him?

In the latest episode of the “We Want Tacos” Lakers podcast,” I discuss that issue with The Oklahoman’s Thunder beat writer Erik Horne. Though Horne ultimately predicted George will venture out west next season, he outlined how Thunder general manager Sam Presti will try to prevent that from happening. You can folow Horne’s work on at The Oklahoman, on Twitter and on his “Thunder Buddies podcast.”

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Lakers must wait on Paul George after Pacers trade forward to Thunder

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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NBA free agency: Lakers reach out to Tyler Ennis

The Lakers’ Tyler Ennis (11) takes the ball through the Spurs’ Kyle Anderson (1) and David Lee (10) during a NBA game at STAPLES Center Sunday, February 26, 2017, Los Angeles, CA. The Spurs won 119-98. Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs Photo by Steve McCrank, Daily News/SCNG

After struggling to find security in the early part of his NBA career, Tyler Ennis received some encouragement during the initial stages of free agency.

The Lakers were among the teams that expressed interest in the 22-year-old Ennis after free agency began on Friday night, according to a league source familiar with the situation. It’s not currently clear which of the other NBA teams also reached out. Discussions were considered preliminary, the source added.

The Lakers liked Ennis’ progression after acquiring him from the Houston Rockets for 32-year-old guard Marcelo Huertas before the Feb. 23. trade deadline. Ennis then averaged a career-high 7.7 points on 45.1 percent shooting and 2.4 assists in 17.8 minutes through 22 games. He also averaged 16.5 points on 50 percent shooting and 5.5 assists in two games as a starter.

Ennis also fills some of the Lakers various needs. The Lakers have considered it a priority to acquire shooters with D’Angelo Russell’s departure to Brooklyn and Nick Young opting out of his $5.7 million player option to become a free agent. With Ennis making a relatively inexpensive $1.7 million last season, the Lakers could sign him to a one-year deal to ensure cap flexibility for the 2018 offseason when LeBron James, Paul George and Russell Westbrook could become free agents.

Ever since the Phoenix Suns selected Ennis out of Syracuse with the 18th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, he has had short stints in Phoenix (2014), Milwaukee (2014-16) and Houston (2016-17). Because of that history, Ennis told Southern California News Group last season that he would like some long-term stability. But Ennis also has affection for the Lakers granting him an extended role, as well as continuous support from Lakers coach Luke Walton, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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NBA free agency: Timberwolves express interest in Thomas Robinson

The Lakers kept reserve forward Thomas Robinson to make his contract guaranteed on Jan. 10, 2017. Photo credit: Hans Gutknecht/Southern California News Group.

The Minnesota Timberwolves expressed interest in free-agent forward Thomas Robinson, according to a league source familiar with the situation.

It remains unclear if the Lakers retain Robinson considering they have a heavy frontcourt in fourth-year forward Julius Randle, third-year forward Larry Nance Jr., veteran forward Luol Deng and rookie forward Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers also waived reserve forward Tarik Black on Saturday, three days before his $6.6 million contract would have become guaranteed for the 2017-18 season.

But the Lakers liked the 26-year-old Robinson for his hustle that yielded 5.0 points on 53.6 percent shooting and 4.6 rebounds in 11.7 minutes through 48 games. Robinson also had a cap-friendly contract just under $1 million.

The Sacramento Kings drafted Robinson fifth overall in 2012 before having short stints in Sacramento (2012-13), Houston (2013), Portland (2013-14), Philadelphia (2014-15) and Brooklyn (2015-16). After granting Robinson an invitation to training camp last year, the Lakers kept him through rounds of roster cuts and throughout the rest of the season.

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Why the Lakers’ new brain trust plans to be deliberative in free agency

Lakers feel Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant give them positional versatility

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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Lakers waive Tarik Black before contract becomes guaranteed

Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black #28 celebrates in the second half. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 108-96 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. 4/11/2017 Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

The Lakers waived reserve forward Tarik Black before his $6.6 million contract would have become guaranteed for the 2017-18 season. The Lakers had until July 4 to decide to retain Black or part ways with the fourth-year forward before his contract became guaranteed.

The Lakers have liked Black’s offensive and defensive hustle as well as leadership qualities. The 25-year-old Black also averaged 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 51.2 percent in 16.3 minutes through 67 games in the 2016-17 seasons. But it appeared unclear how the Black would fit in a loaded frontcourt that also features Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Luol Deng and Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers also have to evaluate reserve forward Thomas Robinson, who became an unrestricted free agent and could be a less expensive option than Black.

The Lakers originally signed Black in the 2014-15 season shortly after Houston waived him to make room for free-agent Josh Smith. Black immediately impressed the Lakers with his hustle, averaging 7.2 points on 58.9 percent shooting, 6.3 rebounds in 38 games. Black’s numbers dipped to 3.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 2015-16, but plenty within the Lakers attributed that to former coach Byron Scott playing him only 12.7 minutes per game through 39 appearances.

Black resigned with the Lakers to a two-year, $13 million deal partly because Lakers coach Luke Walton promised he would treat him fairly. Black, who was with the University of Memphis when Walton was an assistant during the 2011 NBA lockout, represented one of many players that enjoyed playing for Walton.

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Lakers feel Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant give them positional versatility

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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NBA free agency: Nick Young fields interest from Warriors, Thunder, Pelicans

Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young #0 celebrates after making the game winning 3-pointer. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-109 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 11/22/2016. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

Will the “Swaggy P era” come close to its conclusion with the Lakers?

Nick Young fielded interest from the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans after free agency began at 9:01 pm PT on Friday, according to league sources familiar with the situation. Though the Lakers also contacted Young’s representatives during that time period, both the Lakers and Young have conflicting agendas that suggest the end of their four-year tenure together.

After Young opted out of his $5.7 million player option last week to become an unrestricted free agent, the Lakers immediately prepared for his departure. While the 32-year-old Young hopes to maximize his earnings on a multi-year contract for a playoff team, the Lakers want to sign players to one-year deals to save cap space for the 2018 offseason when LeBron James, Paul George and Russell Westbrook might be available.

Ironically, the Lakers have prioritized outside shooting partly because of Young’s expected departure. Following two frustrating seasons filled with losing, declining production and clashes with former Lakers coach Byron Scott, Young thrived better under first-year Lakers coach Luke Walton. In the 2016-17 season, Young averaged 13.2 points on 43 percent shooting and surprisingly impressed the team’s coaching staff with his defense through 60 starts. Under Scott, Young averaged 13.4 points on 36.9 percent shooting in 2014-15 before posting career-lows in points (7.3) and shooting percentage (33.3).

Young, who starred at Cleveland High of Reseda and USC, initially joined the Lakers in 2013-14 and instantly became a fan favorite for his production, hometown roots and playful personality in an otherwise tumultuous season that ended with a 27-55 record. The Lakers then fielded key injuries to Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, while having split feelings about former coach Mike D’Antoni and his fast-paced offense. But Young thrived under D’Antoni, averaging 17.9 points on 43.5 percent shooting in 64 games.

After missing out on James and Carmelo Anthony in the 2014 offseason, the Lakers resigned Young to a four-year, $21 million deal. But with the Lakers hiring Scott to replace D’Antoni, Young did not find the same comfort level under Scott’s more stern approach and less emphasis on outside shooting. Scott often griped about Young’s inconsistency, his defense, playful personality and tardiness before the designated time to arrive to the arena at least 90 minutes before tipoff. Young then became frustrated with Scott’s consistent criticisms and system.

Those frustrations heightened late in the 2015-16 season when former Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell inadvertently leaked a video that showed Young admitting he was unfaithful to his former fiancee, hip-hop artist Iggy Azalea. Then, the Lakers were expected to part ways with Young amid concerns of locker-room tension. But the Lakers decided to retain both players for Walton’s first season. Young also publicly made amends with Russell before having his bounce-back season under Walton that included competing in the NBA’s 3-point contest during All-Star weekend in New Orleans.

RELATED:

Why the Lakers’ new brain trust plans to be deliberative in free agency

Lakers feel Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant give them positional versatility

Where the Lakers go from here & if Jordan Clarkson is part of those plans

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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Lakers finalize 2017 Summer League roster

Unlike many of the teams that will step on the hardwood in Sin City, the Lakers will field a Las Vegas Summer League squad beginning on July 7 that represents a significant portion of their regular-season roster.

They will field their prized lottery pick in rookie point guard Lonzo Ball. Lakers second-year forward Brandon Ingram and second-year center Ivica Zubac will provide encores. The Lakers’ other draft picks in rookie forward Kyle Kuzma (No. 27), shooting guard Josh Hart (No. 30) and center Thomas Bryant (No. 42) will also play.

The Lakers announced the rest of their team on Friday, which included two players that had been on the Lakers and Development League affiliate in Vander Blue and former UCLA product Travis Wear. The Lakers will also feature center Alec Brown (Spain), guard Alex Caruso (Oklahoma City Blue of G League), forward PJ Dozier (South Carolina), guard Matt Thomas (Iowa State) and guard Gabe York (Erie Bayhawks of G League).

The Lakers will begin practicing on Monday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo before playing games at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 7 (Clippers), July 8 (Boston) and July 10 (Sacramento).

As Southern California News Group previously reported, Lakers assistant Jud Buechler will be the summer league’s head coach, while assistants Mark Madsen, Brian Keefe and Miles Simon will fill the same role. This will mark Madsen’s fourth consecutive stint with the Lakers’ Summer League coaching staff after also serving as the team’s head coach in 2014 and 2015. Lakers assistant Jesse Mermuys was the team’s summer-league head coach in 2016.

Fans can purchase tickets for the 2017 NBA Summer League here.

RELATED:

Why the Lakers’ new brain trust plans to be deliberative in free agency

Lakers feel Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant give them positional versatility

Where the Lakers go from here & if Jordan Clarkson is part of those plans

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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