Why Luke Walton does not plan to start Brandon Ingram right away

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

The player left Lakers coach Luke Walton giddy about his long-term potential. Walton marveled at his defense, outside shooting, versatility and work ethic. And when asked, Walton informed Lakers vice president of player personnel Jim Buss about his hope the Lakers draft that player.

Walton received that wish. The Lakers selected Duke forward Brandon Ingram at No. 2 pick. The selection seemed inevitable because the Sixers drafted Ben Simmons at No. 1 and Ingram filled plenty of needs the Lakers lacked.

Despite Walton predicting that Ingram will be “a phenomenal player in this league as his career unfolds,” the Lakers’ coach envisioned something different for how the first chapter of Ingram’s NBA journey unfolds.

The Lakers had finished all of their preparation. They spent the previous weeks overseeing countless pre-draft workouts. They interviewed all of those prospects. And throughout the year, the Lakers had watched those players both in person and on tape.

But before the clock would tick for the Lakers to make their selection, vice president of player personnel Jim Buss asked Lakers coach Luke Walton a specific question about the team’s No. 2 pick.

“We’re not going to throw him into the starting lineup right away,” Walton said in a recent interview with Southern California News Group. “We’re not going to play him 40 minutes a night. It’s going to be a gradual process.”
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Lakers’ Yi Jianlian confident he can succeed in NBA

Chinese star Yi Jianlian joined the Lakers this offseason on a one year deal. Photo credit: Mark Medina/SCNG

Chinese star Yi Jianlian joined the Lakers this offseason on a one year deal. Photo credit: Mark Medina/SCNG

A swarm of cameramen fought for positioning around the Lakers’ player. For the first time in 20 years, the hubbub did not involve Kobe Bryant.

Instead, plenty of Chinese media members wanted to catch every glimpse of Lakers forward/center Yi Jianlian, who has starred for both the Chinese national team and professional team (Guangdong) for the past four years.

Yi’s stature hardly comes close toward Bryant, who won five NBA titles with the Lakers and became the NBA’s third all-time leading scorer. Yi also brushed off any comparisons to former Houston Rockets center and Chinese star Yao Ming, who recently earned an induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

But after spending five NBA seasons with four different teams from 2007 to 2012, Yi reported feeling prepared for his second NBA stint.

“I feel pressure,” Yi said after an informal workout on Friday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “But I feel excited about that.”

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Lakers finalize training camp details in Santa Barbara

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Many make the nearly 2 1/2 hour drive from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara to enjoy the area’s wineries, beaches and scenery. The Lakers, meanwhile, will make the trek up there to play basketball and perhaps cement team bonding during training camp.

The Lakers host “Media Day” on Sept. 26 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at their practice facility in El Segundo, an annual event that entails interviews with numerous media outlets and team broadcast partners as well as promotional plugs for in-game entertainment and sponsorship needs. The Lakers will then train at the Robertson Gymnasium at UC Santa Barbara from Sept. 27 through Oct. 2 before beginning their exhibition schedule on Oct. 4 against the Sacramento Kings at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

The Lakers currently plan to have single practice sessions to open and close training camp in Santa Barbara, while holding four two-a-day sessions in between. Lakers coach Luke Walton could change that itinerary depending on various factors, including how much to weigh the needs for further instruction and conditioning while keeping the roster healthy.

The Lakers will then resume training at their practice facility in El Segundo in between preseason games at Staples Center (Denver; Oct. 7, Portland, Oct. 11), in Ontario (Denver; Oct. 9) in Las Vegas (Sacramento; Oct. 13, Golden State; Oct. 15), San Diego (Golden State; Oct. 19), and Anaheim (Sacramento; Oct. 4, Phoenix; Oct. 21).

The Lakers last trained in Santa Barbara in 1999. Last year, the Lakers spent the first part of training camp in Hawaii for the first time in 2007. As originally reported by Southern California News Group, the Lakers originally planned to have this year’s training camp in El Segundo before changing plans.

The Lakers have accommodated informal workouts on most weekdays only six days finishing the 2015-16 season with their worst record in franchise history (17-65). The Lakers’ young core of players have become frequent visitors, including D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown. Following Las Vegas Summer League play, Lakers rookies Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac have often trained at the Lakers’ practice facility as well.

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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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Kobe Bryant appears in promo for NBA2K17

For the first time in 20 years, Kobe Bryant will enter an NBA season without any chance to win another championship, make another game-winner or recover from another injury.

But as Bryant showed in a recent appearance for NBA2K17, his shadow still looms. The former Lakers’ star and actor Michael B. Jordan promoted the video game’s “My Career mode,” which allows users to create their own player and chart its own career path once the game is released on Sept. 20.

Bryant, who will appear on the game’s “Legends Edition,” charted his own journey that entailed five NBA titles and a third-place standing on the all-time scoring list thanks to a distinguishable scoring presence and work ethic. He also overcame various speed bumps along the way, including working better with teammates and channeling his competitive juices the right way.

All of which Bryant likened toward boxing.

“It’s really about the opponent within yourself,” Bryant said. “That’s the most important. If you win that battle, you win the rest of them.”

Soon enough, the Lakers young core will find out how well they will fare in that area once they step on the court for the 2016-17 season. So will NBA2K users as they compete with a controller.

(H/T to Lakers Nation for first posting).

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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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Luke Walton makes more tweaks to coaching staff

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

The changes to the Lakers’ coaching staff has not just involved Luke Walton replacing Byron Scott.

Walton has also mostly replaced Scott’s staff with his own assistants. The Lakers announced on Friday that Walton will have Brian Keefe, Jud Buechler, and Theo Robertson as player development coaches. Casey Owens will be the Lakers’ assistant coach and advance professional scout after serving as the head coach for the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ Development League affiliate. The Lakers also promoted Will Scott as the team’s video coordinator after previously serving as an assistant coach/video coordinator for the D-Fenders (2015-16) and video coordinator for the WNBA’s Sparks (2014, 2015).

The Lakers had already named Brian Shaw as associate head coach, as well as Jesse Mermuys and Mark Madsen as assistant coaches.

Buechler played 12 seasons in the NBA, while winning three championships with the Chicago Bulls. Keefe worked as an assistant the past two seasons with the New York Knicks. And Robertson worked the past two seasons with the Golden State Warriors on Steve Kerr’s coaching staff, first as a video intern and then as a video coordinator/player development coach.

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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’ Larry Nance Jr. raises more awareness about Crohn’s disease

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. visited with patients at Cedars-Sinai on Wednesday. Photo credit: Al Cuizon/Cedas-Sinai

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. visited with patients at Cedars-Sinai on Wednesday. Photo credit: Cedars-Sinai

Soon enough, the Lakers informal practice will likely lead to highlight reels. It could range anywhere from high-flying dunks, forceful blocks or hustle plays.

Those will likely come from one energetic force: Lakers second-year forward Larry Nance Jr.

“I’m going to be bouncing off the walls,” Nance said. “I’m serious.”

The reasons may not just stem from Nance wanting to build off his promising rookie season as the Lakers’ 27th overall pick. It might go beyond Nance’s excitement from training without any limitations after nursing a sprained right wrist in the Lakers’ Summer League finale.

Nance will also be less than a day removed from receiving an infusion of Remicade, which he has taken every 7 ½ weeks ever since he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 16. That treatment often lead to some early naps. But Nance also compared his later reaction to the medicine toward what the “Popeye” character felt after eating spinach.

“It’s not fair,” Nance said. “I feel like I have super human strength.”

That became the crux of Nance’s message when he spent Wednesday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. As he received an infusion, Nance made several visits with about 25 children that either had Crohn’s disease or another inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Later on, Nance joined some of those children at the hospital’s basketball court,while also signing autographs and posing for pictures.

“The biggest thing I say is you do have a disease, but it’s a disease you can make work around your schedule,” Nance said. “You can do it. I’m sitting proof that once you get it figured out, make your disease work around you.”
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Lakers in discussions for deal with Yi Jianlian

The Lakers are in discussions in negotiating a deal with Chinese star Yi Jianlian, according to a league source familiar with the situation. The source said the deal has not been finalized, though the current plan entails signing Yi to a one-year deal on a non-guaranteed contract worth the veteran’s minimum plus various incentives.

ESPN first reported about the Lakers’ interest in Yi.

The 28-year-old Yi played five years in the NBA, averaging 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds career average of 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in stops with the Milwaukee Bucks (2007-08), former New Jersey Nets (2008-10), Washington Wizards (2010-2011) and Dallas Mavericks (2011-12). The listed 7-foot, 250 pound forward also has shot 33 percent from 3-point range. The Bucks selected Yi sixth overall in the 2007 Draft.

Yi is currently playing with the Chinese national team in the Rio Olympics and has spent the past four seasons with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association..

The Lakers have also yet to sign contracts for rookie forward Brandon Ingram and forward Tarik Black to maximize cap flexibility to accommodate any possible roster changes.

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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 open 2016-17 season against Houston Rockets

New Orleans' Cheick Diallo, right, and Los Angeles Lakers' DAngelo Russell battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

New Orleans’ Cheick Diallo, right, and Los Angeles Lakers’ DAngelo Russell battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Both intrigue and uncertainty await on how long it will take for the Lakers’ young roster to develop. Or how long it will take for Luke Walton to master his position as the Lakers’ new head coach.

At least the Lakers have clarity on who they will play in the 2016-17 season. The Lakers learned a few things when the NBA announced its schedule for the 2016-17 campaign on Thursday, developments that could provide both rich storylines and landmarks during the team’s rebuilding process.

The Lakers will open a season without Kobe Bryant for the first time in 20 years with a home game against the Houston Rockets on Oct. 26 at Staples Center. After making two NBA Finals appearances and winning one NBA Championship the past two years with the Golden State Warriors, Walton will coach against his former team both at home (Nov. 4, Nov. 25) and away (Nov. 23, April 12). When the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers meet in Philadelphia (Dec. 16) and Los Angeles (March 12), inevitable comparisons will arise between this past year’s draft picks at No. 1 (Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons) and No. 2 (Lakers’ Brandon Ingram).

Even without Bryant or a fielding a playoff contending roster, the Lakers will play the Clippers on Christmas Day at Staples Center. Even if the Lakers have lost by an average of 20.45 points in 11 consecutive losses against their hometown rival, the Lakers-Clippers matchup should produce fireworks in designated games at home (Dec. 25, March 21) and on the road (Jan. 14, April 1).

The Lakers will likely experience other tests during other parts of the 2016-17 season.

The Lakers will experience extensive travel during a seven-game trip in 12 days in Sacramento (Dec. 12), Brooklyn (Dec. 14), Philadelphia (Dec. 16), Cleveland (Dec. 17), Charlotte (Dec. 20), Miami (Dec. 22) and Orlando (Dec. 23). Their annual Grammy trip will span eight days, including stops in Washington (Feb. 2), Boston (Feb. 3), New York (Feb. 6), Detroit (Feb. 8) and Milwaukee (Feb. 10). And the Lakers will also play 16 sets of back-to-back games, a slight decrease from the set of 18 back-to-back contests they played last season. Overall, the NBA reduced the number of back-to-back games to 16.3 per team, a 16 percent reduction from 19.3 per team in 2014-15 and an eight percent reduction from 17.8 per team last season.

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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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Kevin Durant said Lakers are “couple years away from where I wanted to be”

LAS VEGAS — The Lakers chased another star. Once again, that star ran away.

This time, the reasons had nothing to do with personality conflicts with teammates, salary or a poor sales pitch in its meeting. Kevin Durant did not grant the Lakers a meeting at all namely because he figured it would be a waste of time.

“Nothing against the Lakers, but I already had my mind set on who I wanted to talk to,” Durant said following practice with the U.S. Olympic team on Monday at UNLV. “I really respect their team. I just thought they were a couple years away from where I wanted to be.”
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Lakers’ Anthony Brown leaves Summer League frustrated with his shooting

Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown expressed frustration with his poor shooting marks in Summer League. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown expressed frustration with his poor shooting marks in Summer League. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS — The positive energy emerged in numerous ways for a Lakers organization that struggled finding any of that in recent years.

D’Angelo Russell looked invigorated under a more aggressive game and a more nurturing coaching staff. Until he sat to treat a sprained right hand, Larry Nance Jr. seemed unstoppable with his countless dunks and hustle plays. Ivica Zubac became an instant fan favorite for his pure enthusiasm, his constant blocks and his commanding post presence. Brandon Ingram appeared determined both to show his potential and fight through his initial shooting struggles.

For all the warm feelings the Lakers’ young core generated through Summer League, one player from that group walked away frustrated with how things turned out.

“I definitely was not happy with my offense all week,” said Lakers second-year forward Anthony Brown.
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