Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak considers Larry Nance Jr. “a late bloomer”

As the seconds ticked away, the Lakers’ choices did not just rest on going big (Jahlil Okafor), small (D’Angelo Russell) or risky (Kristaps Porzingis).

The Lakers eventually chose Russell with their No. 2 pick, believing his playmaking, leadership and confidence at the point guard position trumpeted any nostalgia for selecting Okafor as their next dominant big man to lead the franchise back to another championship era.

Once the Lakers were on the clock again, they had to decide who they would select with their 27th pick, a scenario that opened up much different possibilities. The candidates were not as clear cut because of the draft order and the talent level. The Lakers’ list of many needs on defense, outside shooting and secondary scoring still remained unaddressed.

So when the Lakers settled on Wyoming senior power forward Larry Nance. Jr, the choice seemed surprising for many reasons. Most NBA mock drafts pegged Nance. Jr as a second-round pick. The Lakers also already have a glut of power forwards in Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Tarik Black.

“If I got picked in the first round, second round, lottery, never picked, it would’ve never mattered to me,” Nance Jr. said. “I just never really paid attention to mock drafts. As long as I go my chance to play in the NBA, I’m going to cherish it and relish it.”
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Lakers’ Julius Randle cleared for five-on-five drills

Rookie forward Julius Randle is eager to show the Lakers they made a smart choice by taking him seventh in the NBA Draft in June. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

Rookie forward Julius Randle is eager to show the Lakers they made a smart choice by taking him seventh in the NBA Draft in June. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

Within only 14 minutes in his first regular-season NBA game, Julius Randle’s rookie season soon changed from a year full of potential toward a year of limitations.

But after sitting out the rest of the 2014-15 season with a fractured right tibia, Randle soon has blossomed enough for the Lakers to start thinking about their possibilities again.

The Lakers recently cleared Randle for full-court five-on-five drills. Assuming he experiences no setbacks from now until summer league play starts in Las Vegas on July 10, the Lakers expect Randle to play in his first competitive game in the past nine months.

“He looks great,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Randle, who is believed both to have lost weight and showed more improvement in his jump shooting. “He looks great. His body looks great and getting up and down the floor.”

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Lakers addressed Larry Nance Jr’s tweet in 2012 about Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault charge

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

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

It seemed inevitable Kobe Bryant would treat Larry Nance Jr. harshly on the first day of training camp, a rite of passage every rookie experiences with the Lakers’ star as a way to measure his mental toughness.

After the Lakers selected Nance Jr. with the 27th pick out of the 2015 NBA Draft, his adjustment may go beyond seeing if he can establish a niche at the power forward position after excelling through four seasons at the University of Wyoming. In 2012, Nance Jr. made light of Bryant’s sexual assault case in Eagle, Colo. in 2003, charges that have since been dropped.

“Gee, I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time,” Nance Jr. tweeted before adding the hashtag ‘rapist.’

Most Lakers media members were not immediately aware of his tweet, and Nance Jr. was not asked about it. But the tweet then became viral and the Lakers soon caught wind of it. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he and team spokesman John Black addressed Nance Jr. about his tweet, which has since been deleted.

“I’m not in a position to really share information,” Kupchak said after the NBA Draft on Thursday. “But it is something that they will have to discuss amongst the two of them. It’s my understanding that it’s something that happened a few years ago. And in today’s world, things don’t go away, which doesn’t make it any less offensive.”

The Lakers went through a pretty exhaustive evaluation process during the NBA draft, which included hosting workouts for 83 prospects to consider for their No. 2, 27 and 34th picks. For Nance Jr., that also included Kupchak talking to numerous coaches and assistant coaches he knows about at the University of Wyoming and the college ranks. Accounts painted Nance Jr. in a positive light surrounding his hustle and attitude, but Kupchak said he wasn’t aware of the tweet about Bryant since after the draft.

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Lakers select Stanford’s Anthony Brown with 34th pick

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 Draft: Lakers select Larry Nance Jr. with 27th pick

The Lakers selected Wyoming senior power forward Larry Nance. Jr with the 27th pick of the 2015 NBA draft, a move that went against most mock-draft selections that pegged him as a second-round pick.

Nance Jr. averaged 11.3 points on 52.1 percent shooting, 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game with the Cowboys. His father, who goes carries the same name as Larry Nance, enjoyed a 13-year NBA career with the Phoenix Suns (1981-88) and Cleveland Cavaliers (1988-1994). During that stretch, Nance became an athletic power forward that scored 15,687 career points, grabbed 7,352 career rebounds and won the 1984 NBA Dunk contest.

RELATED:
NBA Draft: Lakers select Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell with No. 2 pick
NBA Draft: Larry Nance Jr. models game after his dad

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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Will Kings accommodate DeMarcus Cousins’ hope to be traded to the Lakers?

Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins is at the center of trade rumors leading up to Thursday’s NBA Draft, with some speculating the Lakers could be shopping their No. 2 pick for the Kings’ talented big man. (Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press)

Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins is at the center of trade rumors leading up to Thursday’s NBA Draft, with some speculating the Lakers could be shopping their No. 2 pick for the Kings’ talented big man. (Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press)

The Lakers’ rebuilding process may involve acquiring an All-Star center instead of drafting a promising prospect.

Amid Sacramento Kings coach George Karl leading a campaign for the franchise to trade him, DeMarcus Cousins wants the team to send him in a deal to the Lakers, according to a league source familiar with his thinking.

Though the Kings will listen to offers, they are still holding out hope in retaining him, according to an NBA source familiar with Sacramento’s thinking.
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DeMarcus Cousins open about possibly going to the Lakers

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, right, protects the ball from Milwaukee Bucks center Zaza Pachulia, of Georgia, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, March 23, 2014. The Kings won 124-107. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, right, protects the ball from Milwaukee Bucks center Zaza Pachulia, of Georgia, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, March 23, 2014. The Kings won 124-107. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

So many complicating variables hinge on whether Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins would wind up in a Lakers uniform.

But consider at least one significant party interested.

“DeMarcus would not be unhappy if he got moved to the Lakers,” said a league source familiar with Cousins’ thinking.

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NBA Draft: Michael Frazier says he’s “the best shooter in the draft”

The uncertainties loom on where his draft order ends up. But whether Michael Frazier lands in the second round or climbs up to first, the Florida junior shooting guard made one unsolicited promise to any NBA team considering him.

“I’m the best shooter in this draft,” Frazier said last week after working out with the Lakers at their practice facility in El Segundo. “Whoever takes me is the best shooter in the draft. I’ve shown that in the past few years of my career. So the numbers speak for itself.”
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NBA Draft: Larry Nance Jr. models game after his dad

His pre-draft workout just ended with the Lakers, and Wyoming senior forward Larry Nance Jr. already sensed his dad would soon feel concerned on how it all went.

“I’m sure I have four missed calls already asking, ‘How did your workout go?'” Nance Jr. said after working out with the Lakers on Friday at their practice facility in El Segundo. “He’s a dad worried about his kid.”

But Nance Jr. is no ordinary dad.

His father, who goes carries the same name as Larry Nance, enjoyed a 13-year NBA career with the Phoenix Suns (1981-88) and Cleveland Cavaliers (1988-1994). During that stretch, Nance became an athletic power forward that scored 15,687 career points, grabbed 7,352 career rebounds and won the 1984 NBA Dunk contest.

Hence, it hardly sounds surprising who Nance Jr. modeled his game after through four seasons at Wyoming where he averaged 11.3 points on 52.1 percent shooting, 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

“The obvious answer would be Dad,” Nance Jr. said. “I definitely stole a few of his moves watching some black and white VHS tapes. But he’s definitely someone I would like to be like.”

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NBA Draft: Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison believes “sky is the limit” for Karl-Anthony Towns

The Lakers would love to bring in Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns for a workout, both to see if his play matches the hype and if he unexpectedly becomes available with the No. 2 pick in next weeks’ NBA Draft.

But the Lakers have not made any progress on that front presumably because the Minnesota Timberwolves will select Towns with their No. 1 pick. That left the Lakers perhaps resorting to gathering information on Towns from a supportive teammate.

“He’s a consistent post player,” Kentucky sophomore point guard Andrew Harrison said of Towns after working out with the Lakers on Friday at their practice facility in El Segundo. “He can do what he wants on the court. IF he’s focused and stays humble, the sky is the limit for him.”

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