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

The Lakers spent the week of the draft restructuring not only its roster, but the leadership of its team on the court. Is the franchise prepared for a quick return to glory, or will the rebuilding process have to continue?

Mark Medina, the Lakers beat writer for the Southern California News Group, examines how the Lakers are setting the organization up for future success in the latest “We Want Tacos” Lakers podcast. It includes audio from Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson as well as one-on-one interviews with Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, Lakers center Ivica Zubac, and NBA TV analyst Isiah Thomas. Thomas, a longtime friend of Johnson and Hall of Fame point guard, offered insight on Ball’s long-term potential after visiting him at his Chino Hills home for a piece on NBA TV.

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Why the Lakers-Lonzo Ball pairing seems like the perfect fit

Lakers’ Lonzo Ball reminds Magic Johnson of himself

Lakers’ Ivica Zubac hopes to work with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on hook shot

Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson believes he can co-exist with No. 2 pick and D’Angelo Russell

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” Lakers podcast on iTunes.

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Lakers add Miles Simon as assistant on Luke Walton’s coaching staff

The Lakers have not just made changes to their front office and player roster. They have also made tweaks to Luke Walton’s coaching staff.

The Lakers announced the hiring of Miles Simon as an assistant coach, which fills a vacancy stemmed from Theo Robertson leaving after the 2016-17 season for an assistant coaching position at the University of California. Simon had been working with players at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo in the past month, but the details of his contract were still being finalized.

Simon recently served as the head coach of the 2017 USA Junior National Select Team for the Nike Hoops Summit. He won gold medals as an assistant for the 2016 USA Men’s U17 World Championship team and 2015 U16 National team. And he also spent three seasons as an assistant at the University of Arizona (2005-08), shortly after Walton played there (1999-2003).

“I’m so thankful and blessed to be able to have this opportunity to work for such a great franchise like the Lakers,” Simon posted on his Twitter account.

The Lakers said Simon also spent the last nine NBA offseasons working in a player development role. Last summer, he was the Director of the Nike Basketball Academy. Simon, who also played at the University of Arizona (1994-98), played one season for the Orlando Magic (1998-99) before venturing oversees and in the CBA.

The rest of Walton’s coaching staff includes associate coach Brian Shaw as well as assistants Jesse Mermuys, Brian Keefe, Jud Buechler and Mark Madsen. Casey Owens is both an assistant coach and advance professional scout. And Clay Moser is both an assistant coach and the director of basketball strategy in the team’s analytics department.

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Why the Lakers-Lonzo Ball pairing seems like the perfect fit

Lakers’ Lonzo Ball reminds Magic Johnson of himself

Lakers’ Ivica Zubac hopes to work with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on hook shot

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” Lakers podcast on iTunes.

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LaVar, Lonzo and LaMelo Ball appear on WWE

It turns out Lonzo Ball’s debut at Staples Center did not entail wearing a purple and gold uniform.

The Lakers’ guard appeared with his outspoken father, LaVar, and his younger brother, LaMelo, on WWE’s “Monday Night Raw,” which took place at Staples Center. That outlet gave the LaVar Ball another outlet to do what he does best. He promoted the “Big Baller Brand.” He touted his son’s greatness. And he talked trash.

Just imagine when the real games start.


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Why the Lakers-Lonzo Ball pairing seems like the perfect fit

Lakers’ Lonzo Ball reminds Magic Johnson of himself

Lakers’ Ivica Zubac hopes to work with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on hook shot

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” Lakers podcast on iTunes.

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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram named to NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team

Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14) drives to the basket against Sacramento Kings guard Arron Afflalo (40), during the 2nd quarter, at the Staples Center Los Angeles Calif., Tuesday, February ,14, 2017. ( Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG )

The award falls well short of what Lakers forward Brandon Ingram originally expected.

After the Lakers selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, he charted out a goal to win the league’s rookie of the year award. Instead, Ingram made the NBA’s All-Second team and received only 11 first-team votes.

Despite leading the NBA’s in minutes played per game (28.8), Ingram ranked seventh in his class in points (7.4), 21st in field-goal percentage (40.2) and seventh in rebounding (4.0). Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was picked 36th overall, ranked second in minutes played (26.4 per game) while leading rookies in assists per game (4.2) and steals (1.12) and finishing second in three-point field goal percentage (40.4) and free throw percentage (86.5).

Still, the Lakers had increasingly liked Ingram’s development enough to consider him untouchable in in trade discussions both leading up to the trade deadline and during the offseason. Despite his modest numbers, the Lakers have optimism with Ingram’s long-term trajectory with his positional versatility, shooting, defense, finishing, post-up game and ball handling. The Lakers have downplayed Ingram’s listed 6-foot-9, 190-pound frame, mindful of Ingram’s skillset and that his body will become stronger with age (20) as well as proper weight training and nutrition. The Lakers also have become encouraged with Ingram’s professionalism and work ethic, two traits that both resonated with teammates and Luke Walton’s coaching staff.

Ingram also progressed from a statistical standpoint en route toward becoming the fifth Laker rookie in franchise history to pick up second-team honors, including Nick Van Exel (1993-94), Kobe Bryant (1996-97), Travis Knight (1996-97) and D’Angelo Russell (2015-16).

After averaging 7.2 points on 36.9 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 39 games off the bench, Ingram posted 11.5 points on 42.3 percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists as a starter. Ingram showed more growth in March when he averaged 13.5 points on a 51.7 perecnt clip, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game in 11 starts. In April, Ingram also cracked double figures in 16 of the last 17 games he played.

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Lakers’ Ivica Zubac hopes to work with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on hook shot

Lakers’ Lonzo Ball reminds Magic Johnson of himself

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com.

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Why the Lakers-Lonzo Ball pairing seems like the perfect fit

With Magic Johnson at the helm of the Los Angeles organization, it should have come as no surprise that he’d want to draft the most dynamic point guard available.

Doing so fulfilled the lifelong wish of UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, who takes over a franchise ready to return to glory. In the latest “We Want Tacos’ Lakers podcast, Lakers beat writer Mark Medina of the Southern California News Group gives his thoughts on Ball’s ascension to the Lakers, with audio from Ball himself, Lakers head coach Luke Walton, general manager Rob Pelinka, and former Laker Robert Horry.

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Lakers select Lonzo Ball with No. 2 pick in NBA Draft

NBA Draft: Lakers tried to address shooting, defensive needs with No. 27, 30, 42 picks

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” Lakers podcast on iTunes.

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NBA Draft: Lakers tried to address shooting, defensive needs with No. 27, 30, 42 picks

EL SEGUNDO — The excitement swept over the Lakers as they selected a hometown point guard with their No. 2 pick that could transcend their franchise with his passing, leadership and marketing appeal. The Lakers did not just feel giddy over drafting UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, fulfilling the expectation that many Lakers fans, opposing team executives, and of course, Ball’s father, LaVar, predicted would happen.

The Lakers also believe they at least partially addressed their shooting and defensive needs with what they did throughout the rest of Thursday’s NBA Draft.

After trading center Timofey Mozgov and guard D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets for center Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick, the Lakers used that draft selection to secure Utah junior forward Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers then traded their No. 28th pick to the Utah Jazz for the 30th and 42nd selections. The Lakers then drafted Villanova senior guard/forward Josh Hart with the No. 30 pick, and then took Indiana sophomore center Thomas Bryant with the 42nd pick.

That left Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka “feeling grateful” for both acquiring additional picks and using those to fill various defensive and shooting needs. While the Lakers lost their two best shooters via trade (Russell) and opting out of a $5.7 million player option (Nick Young), the Lakers have also ranked last in several defensive categories in recent seasons.

“We’re thrilled with the players,” Pelinka said. “Big, big night for the Lakers. We’re just thrilled to be in this position.”
Continue reading “NBA Draft: Lakers tried to address shooting, defensive needs with No. 27, 30, 42 picks” »

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Lakers so far holding firm on keeping No. 2 pick, Brandon Ingram

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, right, drives around Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis. Indiana won 115-108. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

The Lakers would like to have Paul George. George shares the same feelings.

But forming a partnership could become complicated. The Lakers have had preliminary discussions with the Indiana Pacers about acquiring the 27-year-old forward and four-time All-Star, according to league sources. But it currently appears challenging the Lakers will reach a deal before the NBA draft on Thursday.

Although neither the Lakers nor the Pacers have discussed specifics on a possible deal, the Lakers have gone into these conversations holding firm on two things. They want to keep their No. 2 pick and second-year forward Brandon Ingram, something they have reiterated in previous calls they have both made and fielded in the past month.

The Lakers have not entirely ruled out trading their No. 2 pick. Yet, the Lakers like this year’s draft class after having workouts with UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, Kansas guard/forward Josh Jackson and Washington guard Markelle Fultz. Though the Lakers have maintained they have kept an open mind about the NBA draft on Thursday, those in NBA circles strongly believe the Lakers will select Ball. He averaged 14.6 points on 55.1 percent shooting and a nation-leading 7.6 assists per game during his lone season with the Bruins.

As for Ingram, the Lakers have become most encouraged with his growth among the team’s young players. Although Ingram averaged 9.4 points on only 40.2 percent shooting and has a wiry frame, he has impressed the Lakers with his steady improvement with his positional versatility, defense, ball handling, aggressiveness and post play. The Lakers have also heard from draft prospects that they would like to play with him.

Though the Lakers want to hold on to their No. 2 pick and Ingram, it could become complicated trading either point guard D’Angelo Russell or forward Julius Randle. They share the same agent as George’s, Aaron Mintz, who is looking out for his clients’ best interests.

All of this leaves the Lakers in a precarious situation. They could wait for George to become an unrestricted free agent in the 2018 offseason in hopes of complementing him with a talented and, at that point, a further developed roster. Doing so leaves the Lakers vulnerable for another team to get involved. According to ESPN, the Rockets, Cavaliers, Clippers and Wizards are among the teams that have talked to the Pacers about George.

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Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson believes he can co-exist with No. 2 pick and D’Angelo Russell

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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How would De’Aaron Fox fit on the Lakers?

Most of the attention squarely centers on whether or not the Lakers will get involved in the Paul George sweepstakes. Or if they will follow through on the league-wide expectation to select UCLA guard Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick.

But what if the Lakers take a different path? What if they shore up their backcourt by drafting Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox instead?

For the latest “We Want Tacos” Lakers podcast, I spoke with someone who has plenty of perspective on this topic. Fletcher Page, the University of Kentucky basketball writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal, offered plenty of insight on Fox after covering him for his freshman season with the Wildcats. I touch base with Page on a variety of topics, including how he takes motivation from Ball and Washington guard Markelle Fultz projected ahead of him in NBA mock drafts, the comparisons to Washington guard John Wall, his progress as a shooter, his defensive skills and if there is a scenario he could wear a purple and gold uniform.


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NBA draft: Lakers work out Gonzaga’s Zach Collins in case they get another first-round pick

Indiana’s Paul George reportedly plans to join the Lakers as a free agent in 2018

Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson believes he can co-exist with No. 2 pick and D’Angelo Russell

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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Indiana’s Paul George reportedly plans to join the Lakers as a free agent in 2018

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, right, drives around Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis. Indiana won 115-108. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

Even after landing a coveted poker chip in the form of a No. 2 draft pick, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson did not allow that prize to add an extra tint to his purple-and-gold colored glasses regarding free agency.

“I don’t know if we’re going to be a major player this year,” Johnson said after the NBA draft lottery in May. “I’m really looking forward to next summer.”

This past weekend, the Lakers have a mix of optimism and uncertainty on those feelings. The Vertical reported that Indiana star forward Paul George informed the Pacers through his agent, Aaron Mintz, that he plans to opt out of his contract following the 2017-18. Instead, George has aspirations to join the Lakers, which also features some of Mintz’s other clients, including guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Julius Randle.

That explains Johnson’s optimism about next summer. The Lakers resisted trading away their young assets before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, mindful that acquiring George then could come at the expense of nurturing a growing roster around him. George, according to those familiar with his thinking, worried about the same thing.

Yet, George’s recent conversation with the Pacers could complicate his picture wearing a purple and gold uniform.

On one hand, the Lakers have not offered any indication they would make a deal for George for any of their young players since they would have enough cap space to sign him anyway in 2018. On the other hand, the Lakers’ patience may not become a virtue. The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly have had trade discussions with Indiana, hoping a one-year rental on a championship-caliber roster could entice him to stay longer.

George, who grew up in Palmdale and idolized former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, offers several qualities that would make his purple and gold uniform glitter.

The four-time NBA All-Star averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals for Indiana this season. He would mark the Lakers’ the Lakers’ first potential free-agent signing since striking out in recent years in retaining their own (Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol) and enticing star players (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe, Kevin Durant). And George has a close relationship with Lakers associate coach Brian Shaw after the pair worked together in Indiana (2011-13).

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Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson believes he can co-exist with No. 2 pick and D’Angelo Russell

Heisler: Lakers still look fixated on Lonzo Ball, for better and worse

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’ summer league schedule includes matchups against Clippers, Celtics

Despite all the unanswered questions the Lakers face with their No. 2 draft pick, free-agency sweepstakes and young roster, two things have remained certain.

The Lakers hate the Boston Celtics. The Lakers despise the Clippers, too. So it only seems fitting that the Lakers’ summer league schedule in Las Vegas opens with games against their loathsome opponents. First, the Lakers will play the Clippers on July 7 at the Thomas & Mack Center (5:30 pm PT, ESPN). Then, the Lakers will play the Celtics at Thomas & Mack Center on July 8, a matchup that will feature the No. 1 and No. 2 picks against each other.

That game could center on the Celtics’ presumed selection (Markelle Fultz) against the Lakers (Lonzo Ball). But with the Lakers holding other workouts for other candidates as well, that game could very well feature De’Aaron Fox or Josh Jackson.

The Lakers then resume play against the Sacramento Kings on July 10 (5:30 pm PT, NBA TV) at Thomas & Mack Center. Though each team will play a minimum of five games in summer league play, the Lakers’ remaining schedule hinges on the results of their first three games. The quarterfinals (July 15), semifinals (July 16) and championship game (July 16) will conclude the event.

The Lakers will feature a significant part of their young roster. In addition to the Lakers’ No. 2 and No. 28 picks making their debut, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and center Ivica Zubac plan to play for the second consecutive year. Lakers guard David Nwaba plans to join them too after signing with the team late in the 2016-17 season following a productive year with the D-Fenders, the team’s Development League affiliate.

All of the Lakers’ summer league games will be broadcast on both through Spectrum SportsNet, the team’s cable partners. Fans can buy tickets at NBATickets.com.

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“We Want Tacos” Lakers podcast: Could No. 2 pick be D’Aaron Fox or Josh Jackson?

Lakers, Lonzo Ball to meet again on Friday at undisclosed location

Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox says he ‘shot the ball well’ in Lakers workout

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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