Lakers’ Nick Young felt more assured about future after recent meeting with Mitch Kupchak

The LakersþÄô Nick Young #0 reacts during their NBA game against the Grizzlies at the Staples Center Friday, January 2, 2015. The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 109-106. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak met recently with forward Nick Young, which assuaged his concerns about his standing on the team. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers forward Nick Young recently met with general manager Mitch Kupchak, according to league sources familiar with the situation.

It is not entirely clear what Young and Kupchak addressed in their meeting. It is typical for Kupchak to meet with players to discuss both professional and private issues. But the conversation at least left Young feeling comfortable enough that he will enter the 2015-16 season on the Lakers’ roster, according to a source familiar with his thinking.
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Roy Hibbert credits Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s influence

 Center Roy Hibbert could experience a resurgence with the Lakers. (Photo by Brad Graverson/Staff)

Center Roy Hibbert could experience a resurgence with the Lakers. (Photo by Brad Graverson/Staff)

A statue of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has sat outside Staples Center for the past three years, showing the unstoppable skyhook that both punished opponents and carried the Lakers to five NBA championships during the Showtime Era. The Lakers also retired his No. 33 jersey on March 20, 1989, a uniform the Lakers have displayed proudly both at the Forum and at Staples Center. And Abdul-Jabbar’s listing in the NBA record books has not changed, his league-leading 38,387 points staying intact ever since retiring more than 25 years ago.

Yet, there marks another symbol in which Abdul-Jabbar has cast a shadow on the Lakers’ organization. Even before he proudly held his No. 17 Lakers jersey at an introductory press conference on Wednesday, center Roy Hibbert revealed he has stepped foot on The Captain’s ship.

“Kareem reaches out to me, comes to watch my workouts and we stay in touch for the most part,” Hibbert said. “He gives me little tidbits, I worked with him a lot last year during the summer and he keeps up with me. So, he always gives me some advice, gives me some things to work on and I always ask him questions.”

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Kobe Bryant yet to touch base with new Lakers teammates

The question has become customary to ask any new Lakers player considering Kobe Bryant’s lasting influence on the organization.

“Have any of you guys heard from Kobe,” a reporter asked, “and if so, what did he say?”

Usually, the players will share that Bryant texted or talked with them on the phone. Sometimes, they will divulge what insight or advice Bryant offered. But center Roy Hibbert, guard Lou Williams and forward Brandon Bass, all of whom the Lakers acquired this offseason, indicated in an introductory press conference on Wednesday they had not heard from the Lakers’ star.

Hibbert shook his head “no.” The players looked at one another. Brass smiled amid the deafening silence.

Bryant, who is entering the final year of his contract worth $25 million, has touched base with other players in the past. That included D’Angelo Russell, whom the Lakers drafted with the second overall pick. Bryant also sat in on the Lakers’ first free agency meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge.

Still, Bass mentioned earlier that his arrival with the Lakers partly hinged on Bryant,

Said Bass: “I thought it was a great opportunity to play with one of the greatest ever to ever play the game.”

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Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson not satisfied with promising rookie season

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 GM Mitch Kupchak may add another guard or center

The Los Angeles Lakers had the number 2 pick in the NBA draft and selected D'Angelo Russell from Ohio State Thursday, June 25, 2015, El Segundo, CA. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak discusses the selection of Russell with the media from the Toyota Sports Center practice facility. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said on Wednesday that the Lakers may look to add another point guard and/or center. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stood next to what represented the framework surrounding all the moves he made during free agency.

Roy Hibbert stood next to Kupchak donning his Lakers jersey at an introductory press conference on Wednesday after the Lakers acquired him from Indiana for a second-round pick. Shooting guard Lou Williams and power Brandon Bass also stood their holding their Lakers jerseys after signing here as free agents.

Add in Kobe Bryant’s expected return and the Lakers crop of young draft prospects, and it appears they have most of their roster set for the 2015-16 season. Yet, Kupchak stressed afterwards that his work is hardly finished, suggesting he would look to add either a point guard or center.

The Lakers have a flooded backcourt with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Bryant, Williams, Nick Young and Jabari Brown. But Kupchak suggested Bryant and Young could play more at small forward instead of shooting guard. Meanwhile, Brown is expected to make the team on a non-guaranteed deal, but is only a second-year player.

“Depending on how you look at it, we may look to bring another guard on board,” Kupchak said. “We may not.”
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Shaquille O’Neal, Scottie Pippen argue over all-time Lakers, Bulls teams

Shaquille O’Neal set his opponent off into a tizzy. This time, the reasons did not involve O’Neal unleashing his unmatched strength as he powered his way inside for a devastating slam dunk. Instead, it involved an unprompted O’Neal setting off a sports debate on how the best all-time Lakers and Bulls teams would square off in a game.

O’Neal imagined the Lakers would have too much dazzling passing (Magic Johnson), too many unstoppable sky hooks (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), too much prolific scoring (Kobe Bryant and Elgin Baylor) and too much brute force (himself) for any team to stop them. Even if the Bulls fielded a lineup featuring Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Derrick Rose, Dennis Rodman and Horace Grant, O’Neal offered the outcome would prove as lopsided as a forgettable game against a lopsided opponent.

“We would beat em by fifty,” O’Neal wrote on his Instagram page. “What you think. Let me know and don’t hold back.”
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TNT analyst Kenny Smith unsure what to expect from Kobe Bryant next season

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)

TNT analyst Kenny Smith sounded unsure how Kobe Bryant will fare next season. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

The sunny skies and frequent laughs served as the permanent backdrop when athletes and celebrities strolled down the red carpet before the ESPY awards at the Microsoft Theater on Wednesday. But TNT analyst Kenny Smith turned serious amid a cloudy forecast regarding the Lakers’ fortunes next season.

Among the many questions surrounding the Lakers: how will Kobe Bryant play in his 20th and perhaps final NBA season?

“I just hope he’s healthy, healthy as a 36 year old can be,” Smith said. “I’m hoping for that. I’m not hoping for Kobe of 22. That’s not going to happen.”
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TWC SportsNet records top ratings for Lakers’ summer league games

Lakers' Julius Randle drives by Minnesota Timberwolvesí Adreian Payne during the first half of their NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 10, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Lakers’ Julius Randle drives by Minnesota Timberwolvesí Adreian Payne during the first half of their NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 10, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The interest seemed so high that a standing-room only crowd soon emerged just before tipoff. They cheered loudly over every highlight reel. They even booed during poor play.

The Lakers’ summer league team has garnered plenty of interest among the partisan fans that made the quick trip to Las Vegas. The interest has also translated on the team’s telecast. Time Warner Cable SportsNet reported sparking its highest-rated summer league game in the team’s opener against Minnesota on Friday at Thomas & MAck Center with a 1.45 Nielsen rating. The Lakers boasted similarly inspiring numbers for their game against Philadelphia on Saturday (1.23) and against New York on Monday (1.29). It seems likely the Lakers will attract similar interest when they play the Dallas Mavericks at 5:30 p.m. PDT on Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center as an 11th seed.

This represents a dose of good news for the network after experiencing relatively low ratings amid the Lakers finishing with their worst record in L.A. franchise history in consecutive seasons. TWC SportsNet averaged a 1.55 Nielsen rating this season, marking a decline from the average household ratings for televised games in 2013-14 (2.11) and 2012-13 (4.63). Although those numbers still better fare than the Lakers’ Summer League telecasts, it is not considered an apples-to-apples comparisons since summer league games typically draw less interest than the NBA regular season.

But the Lakers presumably experienced a boost because of the implications surrounding their summer league team. After all, the Lakers’ average household ratings for their summer league coverage were substantially lower in 2013 (.28) and 2014 (.27).
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Robert Upshaw to meet with Mitch Kupchak on Thursday

Los Angeles Lakersí Robert Upshaw, right, blocks a shot by Minnesota Timberwolvesí Karl-Anthony Towns during the second half of their NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 10, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Los Angeles Lakersí Robert Upshaw, right, blocks a shot by Minnesota Timberwolvesí Karl-Anthony Towns during the second half of their NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 10, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Though the Lakers and Robert Upshaw have envisioned a future together through the next two years, Upshaw and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak will meet on Thursday in Las Vegas in what could provide more clarity on their partnership, according to a league source familiar with the situation.

The Lakers and Upshaw agreed to a general framework of a deal last weekend, a two-year deal at the veteran’s minimum that includes a partial guarantee next season and a non-guaranteed terms in the 2016-17 campaign. But the deal has not been finalized. It’s unclear what exactly will be discussed in Thursday’s meeting, but it’s believed to be part of the Lakers performing their due diligence.

Upshaw was also projected as a lottery pick for averaging 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocks in 19 games with the University of Washington last season. But Upshaw went undrafted after Fresno State and University of Washington both kicked him off their teams for undisclosed violations of team rules. Through three summer league games with the Lakers, Upshaw has averaged 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 13.7 minutes off the bench.

Assuming the Lakers’ contract with Upshaw becomes finalized, he would stay on the team’s training camp roster and give the Lakers more time to evaluate where he fits into their plans. The Lakers currently have two centers, including All-Star Roy Hibbert and backup Robert Sacre. Tarik Black has also played at center, but coach Byron Scott views him as more of a power forward.

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Lakers, Robert Upshaw agree to two-year deal

Lakers in summer league: Robert Upshaw says he has matured since Washington dismissal

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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Jabari Brown to play in Monday’s summer league game vs Knicks

LAS VEGAS — After missing the first two summer league games because of a laceration in his left eye, Lakers guard Jabari Brown received medical clearance to play in Monday’s game against the New York Knicks at Thomas & Mack Center.

Brown hasn’t fulled healed his left eye yet. He will wear goggles to protect his eye from further damage. The Lakers also plan to evaluate him once Summer League play ends, which could be as late as July 20.

Brown was poked in his left eye last Monday during practice and has not played since then.

The Lakers signed Brown to a non-guaranteed contract for the 2015-16 season after impressing the team as a late-season pickup because of endless injuries. Brown, who went undrafted after playing at Missouri alongside Jordan Clarkson, averaged 11.9 points on 41.2 percent shooting in 29.9 minutes through 19 games.


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Lakers, Robert Upshaw agree to two-year deal

Lakers’ Byron Scott evaluates options between Young, Williams, Randle, Bass

Future of Lakers looks good, bad in summer league opener against Minnesota

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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NBA free agency: Jordan Hill plans to sign deal with Indiana Pacers

"Los Angeles Lakers' Jordan Hill smiles before the Lakers' NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)"

“Los Angeles Lakers’ Jordan Hill smiles before the Lakers’ NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)”

It almost became a swap for two big men. Power forward Jordan Hill will agree to a deal soon with the Indiana Pacers, according to a league source. Meanwhile, the Lakers recently acquired center Roy Hibbert in a trade from Indiana for a second-round pick.

Both sides are still working out the terms of Hill’s deal. But his expected arrival could help Indiana offset the loss of power forward David West, who took an $11 million paycut to join the San Antonio Spurs in hopes of winning an NBA championship.

The Lakers had expressed some interest in re-signing Hill as a free agent after declining his team option worth $9 million, according to a league source. But the chances of that happening seemed slim because of the team’s flood of power forwards, including Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly, Tarik Black and Larry Nance Jr. The Lakers could not attract any high-profile frontcourt players, including LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe and DeAndre Jordan. The Lakers also did not retain Ed Davis to keep cap space available for those aforementioned marquee free agents. Butt the Lakers also acquired 10-year veteran power forward Brandon Bass as well as Hibbert.

Despite Hill posting career highs in points (12), rebounds (7.9), starts (57) and minutes (26.8), the Lakers became frustrated with his inconsistency. The Lakers and Hill both attributed those struggles to adapting to heavy playing time and struggles with his diet. The Lakers acquired Hill from the Houston Rockets in 2012 as part of a mid-season trade involving Derek Fisher.

The Lakers have not retained any of their free agents last summer, including Hill, Davis (Portland), Jeremy Lin (Charlotte), Wayne Ellington (Brooklyn), Ronnie Price (Phoenix) and Wesley Johnson (Clippers). Power forward Carlos Boozer remain unsigned.

The Sporting News first reported Hill’s plan to sign with the Pacers.

RELATED:

Lakers, Robert Upshaw agree to two-year deal

Lakers’ Byron Scott evaluates options between Young, Williams, Randle, Bass

Future of Lakers looks good, bad in summer league opener against Minnesota

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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