Kobe Bryant: “I’m far from done”

There will never mark a time where Kobe Bryant will ever play in an NBA game again. So those five NBA championship runs and endless clutch performances will represent nearly all of what Bryant accomplished in his 20-year NBA career. So will his endless ability to overcome injuries.

As Bryant accepted the ESPY Icon award on Wednesday at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, the Lakers’ former star made it clear, however, he has yet to write the final word on his legacy.

“I’m far from done,” Bryant said. “My next dream is to be honored one day for inspiring the next generation of athletes, to have a dream, sacrifice for it and never ever rest in the middle.”
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USA Basketball deferring to Lakers on possible scheduling overlap

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)

LAS VEGAS — There marks a chance the Lakers’ summer league schedule could overlap with the practice schedule for the U.S. Men’s Olympic team in Las Vegas.

Should the Lakers advance to the Summer League Final, that game would take place on July 18 at Thomas & Mack Center, the same day Team USA begins practice at UNLV. Russell, Julius

Randle and Brandon Ingram are playing for the U.S. Men’s select team.

“We want them to finish what they need to do with their team,” said USA basketball spokesman Craig Miller. “There’s no issue.”

Neither Mermuys nor Russell were initially aware of the arrangement. It appeared likely, however, Russell and Ingram will play in all the Lakers’ summer-league games. Randle is not playing in Summer League since he is a third-year player.

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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 encouraging Ivica Zubac to extend his range

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Zubac gets a laugh from media. Photo By  Robert Casillas / SCNG

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Zubac gets a laugh from media.
Photo By Robert Casillas / SCNG

LAS VEGAS – The attempt once earned Andrew Bynum a quick trip to the bench. The concept became a disturbing trend to former Lakers coach Byron Scott.

But Lakers coach Luke Walton views the 3-point shot differently. After serving as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors as they perfected their outside shooting in the past two years, Walton plans to maximize that philosophy with a younger and more unproven roster. So much that the Lakers have encouraged rookie center Ivica Zubac to extend his range.

“Once they prove it to Coach Walton, he’ll let them shoot them,” Lakers summer league coach Jesse Mermuys said. “Obviously [Zubac] has to prove that. But that’s where the game is going. If you’re not allowing your guys to do that, then you’re behind the times. We have to encourage all that. If they prove it and make it, you have to let them shoot it.”

Zubac has not taken any 3-pointers yet through three summer league games. Yet, he has averaged nine points on a 64.3 percent clip based off a mix of post-ups and jumpers.

His infectious enthusiasm has gone beyond playing for his childhood team. He shared, “I really love the system” after the 19-year-old Bosnian native felt constricted when he played in Croatia.

“I was in the system where coach tells you who’s going to shoot now and he calls the plays. Players don’t have freedom. Here, you have freedom and you can show what you have,” Zubac said. “To have it for this first time is so great. I can show what I can do.”

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Lakers praise Brandon Ingram for not shying away from contact

Los Angeles Lakers' Brandon Ingram drives around New Orleans' David Lighty Jr. during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram drives around New Orleans’ David Lighty Jr. during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — As he moves all over the court, Brandon Ingram feels an overwhelming sensation that does not involve nerves, fatigue or information overload.

Instead, it all points to the Lakers’ No. 2 draft pick suddenly becoming bait for his opponents to bite.

“With my size and my frame,” Ingram said, “they try to test me.”

Ingram stands at 6-foot-9 and is listed at 190 pounds. He has said he actually logs at 195 pounds after previously weighing 169 pounds during his freshman season at Duke. There might be a discrepancy on just how skinny Ingram is. But no discrepancy has emerged on what has become a priority on Ingram’s scouting report.

The Lakers may have imposed their will with 78-65 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday at Thomas & Mack Center. Ingram, however, encountered suffocating defenses that the Lakers attributed to him scoring only seven points on 0-of-5 shooting.

After posting 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the Lakers’ summer league opener against New Orleans, Ingram followed up with a seven-point effort on a 3-of-12 clip against Philadelphia.

Yet, the Lakers have seen something that a box score cannot document.

“As skinny as he is, he’s not shying away from that contact and that abuse,” Lakers summer league coach Jesse Mermuys said. “He’s trying to go get it. That’s a really good sign for him.”

It also has become a good sign that explains why neither the Lakers nor Ingram seem too concerned with his shooting inconsistency.

“When guys get physical, I think it’s important to hit them first before they hit you,” Ingram said. “So just trying to be aggressive and try to make plays for my other teammates.”
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Ivica Zubac shows sense of humor over Jerami Grant dunking on him

LAS VEGAS — The crowd went abuzz over Ivica Zubac, and this time the roars had nothing to do with his blocks or his infectious energy. Instead, the Lakers’ rookie center experienced his first rude awakening in the NBA after Bosian-born 19-year-old played overseas in Croatia.

Philadelphia forward Jerami Grant drove baseline and leaped over the 7-foot-1, 240-pound center in the Lakers’ eventual 70-69 victory over the Sixers on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center. The act did not just put Zubac on his first poster. Grant also made the incident extra humiliating after curling his right leg over Zubac’s head to avoid any contact.

“We don’t have that in Europe. I thought he was going to make a pump fake,” Zubac said. “I didn’t jump. Then he jumped on me.”

A reporter then informed Zubac that his Wikipedia entry indicated that he “died” from the experience.

“I did a little bit,” Zubac said.
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Ivica Zubac earns both praise and a new nickname in Lakers’ Summer League debut

LAS VEGAS — The crowd roared into a frenzy as they saw how those long and outstretched arms performed something magical.

Only eight minutes into his first NBA Summer League game, 19-year-old Bosnian born center Ivica Zubac threw out his arm to swat a shot. Six seconds later, Zubac did the exact same thing.

Lakers fans may have never heard of the 7-foot-1, 240-pound rookie center until the Lakers drafted him No. 32 overall nearly two weeks ago. But it did not take long for them to fall in love with him during the Lakers’ 85-65 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in Summer League play on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center. So much that as Zubac collected 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting, five rebounds and three blocks, several of the fans chanted “Zu Block.”

Apparently, that is a nickname Zubac both endorsed and already had.

“My old teammates gave me that nickname,” Zubac said. “When I separated ways from them, that nickname was forgotten.”

Still, it wasn’t clear if Zubac said “Zu Block” or “Zu Blocka.” Either way, more clarity on his nickname could emerge when the Lakers play against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center.

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. had already likened Zubac to former NBA blocking specialist Dikembe Mutombo. Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell already referred to Zubac as “Big Z” and compared him to Memphis center Marc Gasol. Lakers summer league coach Jesse Mermuys affectionately called Zubac “the big fella.”

“A big fella with some sweetness to him,” Russell clarified. “He’s really good. I don’t think people know how good he is yet.”

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Marcelo Huertas says he’s returning to Lakers for two more years

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, center, moves the ball while Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Bass, left, and guard Marcelo Huertas, right, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 6, 2016. The Los Angeles Lakers won 112-95. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, center, moves the ball while Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Bass, left, and guard Marcelo Huertas, right, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 6, 2016. The Los Angeles Lakers won 112-95. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

The Lakers made another move by adding more backcourt depth. Reserve guard Marcelo Huertas revealed on his Instagram account that he has agreed to return to the Lakers on a two-year deal

“Purple and gold for 2 more years!” Huertas said. “Couldn’t be happier to stay with this organization and people that have welcomed me so well last season! Looking forward to it!”

It is not immediately clear what the terms of Huertas’ contract. The Lakers did not confirm the deal. But Huertas’ presumed return will entail competing with reserve guard Jose Calderon for minutes behind second-year guard D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers acquired Calderon from Chicago on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old Huertas played in his first NBA season in the 2015-16 season after having a 14-year career in South America and Europe. Huertas averaged 4.5 points and 3.4 assists, and often received praise for running a team-oriented offense and his hustle.

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Larry Nance Jr. considers Brandon Ingram the “real deal”

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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Nick Young won’t face disciplinary action from Lakers for fireworks stunt

The Lakers had hoped the fireworks would blow up anytime after Nick Young went on a scoring outburst.

But after spending the past two seasons launching plenty of duds, Young set off his own fireworks with an ending that would hardly leave anyone celebrating. As first reported and shown in the video above by TMZ, Young picked up a lit firework during a party on the 4th of July holiday only for it to blow up in his face.

Young did not get hurt. The Lakers also do not plan to hurt him with any disciplinary action after putting himself in physical danger.

“You would hope that things like that don’t happen,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said after summer league practice on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. “Professional athletes kind of need their hands. But I’m glad he’s okay.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram deferential on role

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Brandon Ingram talks about his feelings coming to Lakers franchise. Photo By  Robert Casillas / SCNG

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Brandon Ingram talks about his feelings coming to Lakers franchise.
Photo By Robert Casillas / SCNG

The expectations for Brandon Ingram seemingly increase by the day.

The Lakers drafted him with their No. 2 pick. Ingram’s versatility, long wingspan and rail-thin frame elicited comparisons to Kevin Durant. And Ingram learned on Tuesday that he will have Kobe Bryant’s vacated locker at the Lakers’ practice facility.

But that does not necessarily secure Ingram as the Lakers’ definitive starter at small forward. The Lakers agreed to a four-year, $72 million with 12-year NBA veteran forward Luol Deng, who could assume that same position.

All of which prompted one question. Does it matter to Ingram if he starts or not?

“Of course, from my competitive side,” Ingram said on Tuesday at the Lakers’ introductory press conference. “But if I have to be a reserve, I’ll be coachable enough to do whatever the coach tells me to do.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton has said he considered Ingram the top choice after winning the ACC’s Freshman of the Year award during his lone season at Duke. Walton also has praised Ingram’s defense, outside shooting and ability to play multiple positions.

That also explains why the Lakers pursued Deng, who has averaged 15.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his 12-year NBA career with stints with the Chicago Bulls (2004-14), Cleveland Cavaliers (2014) and Miami Heat (2014-16). Deng also has cemented a league-wide reputation as a positive locker room influence and willing mentor. It also seems natural Ingram and Deng could hit it off after both starring at Duke.

“I haven’t talked to him yet, but I plan to pick his brain on different things,” Ingram said. “He’s been in this league for a very long time. I hear nothing but good things about him. At practice, I plan to compete against him every single day. It’s up to the coaches on who starts. But of course, I’m going to compete against him every day.”

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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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NBA free agency: Tarik Black reportedly agrees to two-year, $12.85 million deal with Lakers

Tarik Black reportedly agreed to a two-year, $12.85 million deal to stay with the Lakers. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Tarik Black reportedly agreed to a two-year, $12.85 million deal to stay with the Lakers. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Lakers do not want to distance themselves entirely from a team that finished with the worst record in the franchise’s history.

The Lakers agreed to retain backup forward/center Tarik Black on a two-year deal worth $12.85 million, according to The Vertical. Black appeared to confirm the news by posting the tweet below of a Lakers hat.

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