The two men competed in physically vicious and mentally exhausting battles as they strove for NBA championships. Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce have continuously bantered over the years anytime they step on the floor.
But even if the Lakers will likely forever view Pierce as a member of the hated Boston Celtics, the Washington Wizards’ forward showed his sentimental side as he processed Bryant needing to have surgery on his right shoulder in what will likely become a season-ending injury.
“It always saddens me. Kobe is one of my NBA brothers,” Pierce said on Tuesday after morning shootaround at Staples Center, hours before the Lakers (12-33) will host the Wizards (30-15) here. “For him to go down with injury, it always hurts.
The Lakers will open 2015 training camp in Hawaii. ANDY HOLZMAN — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
The Lakers have plenty of reasons to look ahead to the next season.
The Lakers (12-33) are on pace to finish their worst year in L.A. franchise history. Kobe Bryant will have surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, an injury that will likely sideline him for the remainder of the current campaign. And there’s this: for the first time in eight years, the Lakers will hold their 2015 training camp in Hawaii.
That will include the Lakers practicing in Honolulu at the University of Hawaii and then playing two exhibition games on Oct. 4 and 6 at Stan Sheriff Center.
“Hawaii has been like a second home to the Lakers since my father first took the team there in 1988,” Lakers president Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “The love and support we’ve always received from the people in Hawaii has meant so much to us over the years, and we’re thrilled to be returning there next fall and seeing so many of our loyal fans.”
The Lakers have held training camp in Hawaii 12 times, beginning in 1988 and most recently in 2007. But the Lakers held off for a number of reasons. Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson preferred holding training camp in Los Angeles. The Lakers also had exhibition games in 2010 in both London and Barcelona.
But the Lakers were aware that holding training camp in Hawaii could provide another selling point for the storied franchise when they pursue free agents this summer.
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The way Nick Young tells it, the Lakers have a pretty simple solution on how to make up for Kobe Bryant likely missing the rest of the 2014-15 season once he has surgery on Wednesday to repair his right shoulder.
“Pretty much just give me the ball and get out the way,” Young said.
If only were it that easy.
The Lakers would have issues with anyone trying to replace Bryant’s skillset. Even if he shot a career-low 37.3 percent from the field, Bryant still averaged 22.3 points and 5.6 assists either as a high-volume shooter or an efficient distributor.
Young? His 14.4 points per game average only trails behind Bryant on the team. But Young has shot 32.2 percent in the last month. He played only nine minutes in Sunday’s loss to Houston because of Byron Scott’s frustration with his body language and effort. Young also suffered a moderately sprained right ankle in Monday’s practice that leaves him listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game against Washington.
“I’ll go out there and see what happens,” said Young, who rolled his ankle after rookie guard Jordan Clarkson accidentally stepped on it during a scrimmage. “I’m a soldier. I roll with the punches.”
That apparently includes Young’s recent benching that entailed missing the entire second half in Sunday’s loss against the Rockets.
“The message I was sending [Sunday] night was, ‘You basically didn’t look like you wanted to play,’” Scott said. “‘You weren’t defending. You were just standing around.’ He was throwing the ball all over the place. So I chose not to play him, because if you look disinterested, with body language and things like that, to me you don’t want to play.”
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will undergo surgery Wednesday for the torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, but a timetable for his return will not be revealed until after the surgery. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)
The obstacles seem stacked against Kobe Bryant. This time, the challenges do not involve endless double teams, elevating an inconsistent supporting cast, overcoming low shooting accuracy or competing against a competitive Western Conference.
Instead, the opponent involves Father Time, the foe that has knocked Bryant down for three consecutive seasons. It has become something far more vicious than the Boston Celtics ever delivered. The outcomes have resulted in Bryant shattering his left Achilles tendon in the 2012-13 season, fracturing his left knee in the 2013-14 campaign and tearing his rotator cuff in his right shoulder in 2014-15. Yet, with Bryant planning to have surgery on Wednesday morning to treat his right shoulder, the Lakers remain convinced their 36-year-old star will tackle and overcome his latest challenge with the same vengeance he has with everything else.
“I don’t see Kobe as a type of guy who wants to leave his legacy on those terms,” said Lakers coach Byron Scott, who mentored Bryant his rookie season 19 years ago. “He wants to go out on his own terms.”
The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant didn’t practice Tuesday in Phoenix and may not play in today’s game in New Orleans to preserve his 36-year-old body. Hans Gutknecht ‑ Staff Photographer
After a second opinion taken on Monday confirmed he has a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will have surgery on Wednesday morning.
The Lakers have declined to offer an official timetable on Bryant’s return until after he has surgery. But the Lakers anticipate this surgery will sideline him for the remainder of the 2014-15 season. This will mark the third consecutive year his season ended abruptly. He shattered his left Achilles tendon on April, 2013 and rehabbed for the following eight months. Bryant then played in six games last season before fracturing his left knee. In his 19th NBA season, Bryant averaged 22.3 points albeit on a career-low 37.3 percent shooting through 35 games.
Lakers coach Byron Scott reported that Bryant first felt right shoulder pain about a month-and-a-half ago. But he quickly dismissed the severity of the injury. Bryant aggravated it in Wednesday’s loss in New Orleans after throwing down a baseline dunk. After icing his shoulder on the bench, Bryant then returned late in the game and mostly shot, passed and dribbled with his left hand. He then left for the locker room with about a minute left in the game.
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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has suffered another setback. How long will this one keep him down? (File photo/AP Photo)
Those 13 years of battling in the paint and slugging it out against the Lakers has left Houston Rockets coach and former Celtics forward Kevin McHale walking with a noticeable limp.
Once all these years pass, will the same happen to Kobe Bryant?
“That’s so hard to say. Eventually it catches up to you,” McHale said before the Lakers’ 99-87 loss on Sunday to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. “Kobe has been blessed to be in this league for a long time and he’s a great player. But I’ve seen other great players, when your time is up, it’s too bad.”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, right, goes up for a shot as Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas, of Lithuania, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
His second career start just awaited him. But Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson soon found out coach Byron Scott still views him low on the totem pole.
Scott offered Clarkson and Lakers backup center Tarik Black some rookie hazing, forcing the two players to push toy babies in strollers through the rest of the 2014-15 season.
“They’re in charge of bringing them to every home game, making sure they’re right by their locker and that the baby’s not crying,” Scott said. “They’ve got to watch their baby, can’t lose the baby, and then on game days on the road, they have to wear their pink backpacks.”
The uncertainty over when Jeremy Lin would ever step on the court lingered seemingly at every moment of the day.
The uncertainty started when Lin sat in the Lakers’ loss on Friday to San Antonio to accommodate Jordan Clarkson’s first rookie start, marking his first non-appearance because of a coaching decision for the first time in three years.
The uncertainty continued when Lin’s conversation on Sunday morning Lakers coach Byron Scott only revealed the circumstances could change every game, though he hardly knew when or how.
The uncertainty remained unchanged as the Lakers opened Sunday’s game at Staples Center against the Houston Rockets, the team that traded Lin this summer in a salary dump after two seasons filled with fluctuating roles.
But nothing has matched Lin’s unpredictability with the Lakers. It has become a season where Lin struggled adapting toward sharing ball handling duties with Kobe Bryant, adjusting to Scott’s Princeton-based system and the fluctuating minutes as a starter and reserve along the way.
Perhaps that explains why Lin revealed he felt “thankful” for playing in an otherwise meaningless game. The Lakers’ 99-87 loss on Sunday to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center marked the team’s eighth consecutive loss. The Lakers (12-33) still have the NBA’s fourth-worst record. The Lakers seem destined to brace for more negativity when Kobe Bryant will meet with another doctor on Monday for another opinion on his torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
For Lin, though, the game meant everything. His 14 points on 2-of-9 shooting, 10-of-14 mark from the foul line, six assists and three turnovers in 28 minutes hardly marked a perfect game. But it at least provided temporary solace for Lin as he tries to navigate through his new role.
“Definitely a DNP would change your perspective on things and allow me to take a step back,” Lin said. “So I’m just thankful I got on the court. I try to play my heart out and have fun. I was glad I was able to do that.”
Nick Young, flashing his signature smile despite his uneven on-court performances, enjoys being a Laker in what has been another tough year. (Thomas R. Cordova photo)
Through every Lakers’ win, his electric play and infectious personality brings smiles to everyone’s face. Through every Lakers’ loss, his emotions and scoring outbursts still provide some feel-good moments.
But Nick Young offered none of those qualities in the Lakers’ 99-87 loss on Sunday to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. For the first time in his two years with the Lakers, Young experienced a new low point. He went scoreless. He took only two field-goal attempts. He committed three turnovers. He only played eight minutes, 32 seconds, and sat out the entire second half.
“It looked to me to be honest with you that he didn’t want to be there,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Young. “That’s how all I looked at it.”
Jordan Clarkson is slated to get his second consecutive start Sunday night against visiting Houston/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Lakers, NBA.com
The Lakers on Sunday night are slated to start Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hill against the Houston Rockets. It’s the same unit that started Friday in a loss at San Antonio and coach Byron Scott said that will remain the same for some time.
“The starting unit will stay this way for probably the next 15, 20 games,” Scott said at the morning shootaround, “but the roles on the bench will probably change. And it’s just depending. That could go game-by-game. I’m not set in stone with that, but the starting unit I am, like I said, for the next 15 games or so.
“But the bench, that can change game-by-game. I’m not real concerned about the bench. I’m seeing if our starters can get some sort of flow going. And then the energy from the guys off the bench. So if I’m getting certain guys playing well off the bench, I’ll stick with it. If not, I’ll change it.”
On Friday at San Antonio, Jeremy Lin did not figure into the equation at all. He did not play and next to his name in the box score was a fat DNP. Scott was asked if he had spoken to Lin about it.
“We haven’t had a conversation about it,” Scott said about 11:30 a.m. “We’re going to talk about it today a little bit, just to tell him what I expect, you know, in this role. And like I said, this role isn’t permanent. I didn’t play him last game because I wanted to stick to a 10-man rotation. Tonight, it might change. I don’t know. But right now, the guys that are coming off the bench, their roles are not permanent.”