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.”
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.”
Six-foot-11 freshman center Jahlil Okafor helped lead Duke to the NCAA national championship earlier this year. Streeter Lecka — Getty Images
In less than a week, the Lakers will embark on an NBA draft that could significantly influence the pace of their massive rebuilding project. So with six days remaining before that date on June 25, the Lakers have scheduled numerous workouts in hopes for more clarity involving their No. 2, 27 and 34th picks.
The Lakers will host a private workout for Duke center Jahlil Okafor on Friday afternoon at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo, marking the second individual workout Okafor has had wearing a purple and gold practice jersey. The Lakers also plan to host a private workout on Saturday both for Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell and for prospects that might be available at the No. 27 and 34th draft slots. The Lakers will then have private workouts next Monday and Wednesday just for prospects they would consider with the 27th and 34h picks.
The Lakers also held a second workout on Thursday for point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, though his session entailed training with prospects slated for the second round. On Monday, the Lakers invited Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis for an individual workout after seeing him train last weekend in Las Vegas.
The Lakers have also become increasingly doubtful they will have a workout for Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns. The Lakers believe their lack of progress with those efforts stem from most NBA mock drafts predicting the Minnesota Timberwolves will select with their No. 1 pick. But the Lakers will accommodate their workout schedule should Towns and his representatives express interest in a workout.
On Friday morning, the Lakers also hosted a workout for Kentucky sophomore point guard Andrew Harrison, Louisville sophomore point guard Terry Rozier, St. John’s senior guard/forward Sir’Dominic Pointer, Florida junior shooting guard Michael Frazier, Wyoming senior power forward Larry Nance and Georgia senior forward Marcus Thornton.
File photo: NBA draft prospect Emmanuel Mudaiy, who played professionally in China last year, worked out for the Lakers twice. (Getty Images/File photo)
The Lakers have continuously narrowed their search on who they will consider for their No. 2 pick for the NBA Draft on June 25.
That has entailed working to bring back prospects for a second look. The Lakers made progress on that front on Thursday by hosting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay for his second pre-draft workout at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. The Lakers hope to do the same with Duke center Jahlil Okafor and Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell. Mudiay’s individual workout was not open to the media, and the Lakers will follow the same course presuming Okafor and Russell work out again. The Lakers will have open workouts, however, for prospects they will consider with their 27th and 34th picks on Friday.
The Lakers also hosted a private workout on Monday for Kristaps Porzingis and are hoping for a workout for Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns. But that might not happen since Minnesota is expected to select Towns with the No. 1 pick.
Mudiay has worked out plenty recently in Los Angeles in which he has offered both glimpses of his athleticism and speed and uncertainty regarding his shooting. Mudiay appeared streaky with his outside shooting both in an individual workout with the Lakers on June 6 and a private workout at an athletic club in Reseda on June 11. But in his private workout open to members of his agency, Rival Sports Group, and a handful of reporters, Mudiay showed more of his speed, dunking and athleticism that has intrigued NBA talent evaluators. Mudiay has also worked out with the New York Knicks, Philadephia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves. Continue reading →
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant faces 66/1 odds to win the 2016 NBA Championship, according to one gambling website (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
The champagne poured out like a flowing stream. The confetti dropped from the air like a heavy downpour. The elation swept over both the team and its passionate fanbase.
The Golden State Warriors celebrated their first NBA championship since 1975 after eliminating the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday in Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals. That left the Lakers presumably missing that winning feeling they captured in 16 times in the franchise’s 67-year-history, the most recent happening five years ago. It did not help the Lakers finished last season with their worst record in franchise history.
So, it seems hardly surprising that gambling website, Bovada, pinned the Lakers with 66/1 odds to win the 2016 NBA title. The favorites still rested on Cleveland (3/1), Golden State (5/1), Oklahoma City (7/1), Chicago (10/1), the Clippers (10/1) and San Antonio (10/1).
“The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant #24 reacts after fouling the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley #11 late in the 4th quarter during their NBA game at the Staples Center Friday, January 2, 2015. The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 109-106. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)”
Once Antawn Jamison put on a Lakers uniform, he immediately imagined a few things.
He would finally win his first NBA championship. The significant paycut he took to arrive here on the veteran’s minimum would become a worthy investment to erase any frustration after never winning the game’s best prize. Jamison would also become a reliable role player, either as a starter or a reserve.
None of those scenarios happened. The Lakers lost in the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs. Jamison witnessed constant infighting between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. Jamison experienced philosophical differences with coach Mike D’Antoni and even sat six games because of a coach’s decision. Jamison averaged 9.4 points on 46.4 percent shooting and 4.8 rebounds, numbers that both complemented his poor defense and marked the second-lowest statistical output in his 16-year NBA career. Jamison suffered a torn ligament in his wrist that required off-season surgery. He even skipped his exit meeting with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and D’Antoni before parting ways via free agency.
Yes, Jamison encountered plenty of frustrations in his lone season with the 2012-13 Lakers. But none of it had to do with his experience playing with Bryant.
In fact, Jamison argued Bryant became “one of the easiest teammates to sit down and have a conversation with about the game and about what we’re trying to do.” With Jamison’s locker next to Bryant’s, the two often took advantage of those fireside chats.
“He’d throw out some things to me and I’d give him my response,” said Jamison, who is currently an analyst for Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet. “He was receptive of that. That was probably one of the things that shocked me the most. When it came to the game of basketball, he soaked it up and you could talk to him without it being uncomfortable.” Continue reading →
Lakers forward Julius Randle recently has walked without crutches after fracturing his right leg a little less than two months ago in a season-ending injury. (Micah Escamilla/Staff Photographer)
It will not take long for the comparisons between Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor to morph from NBA mock drafts to the actual court.
The Lakers will play their first summer league game on July 10 against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 5:30 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, the setting where Towns and Okafor might first square off. Minnesota is expected to select Towns at No. 1, while Okafor appears a strong possibility for the Lakers to choose at the No. 2 slot. How this matchup turns out will not just stay in Vegas. It seems likely this will mark the first of many snapshots on how the two best big men in this year’s draft will fare against each other.
The Lakers will also play on July 11 against the Philadelphia 76ers and on July 13 against the New York Knicks, both at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lakers’ first three opponents all share the top four picks in the draft, with Philadephia slated at No. 3 and New York at No. 4. The Lakers will then play in a tournament from July 15 to 20, with dates and opponents to be determined later.
Normally, the Lakers put little stock in their summer league play. But this year’s team will offer a clear glimpse into their future. The roster will include the Lakers’ No. 2, No. 27 and No. 34 picks of this year’s draft. Lakers forward Julius Randle could make his return there after suffering a season-ending right leg injury after playing only 14 minutes of his rookie season. Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson will play in his second summer league after making the NBA’s All-Rookie First team. Lakers forward Tarik Black will also appear after he was acquired midway through the 2014-15 season following Houston waiving him to make room for Josh Smith.
The ball sank into the net, another Robert Horry clutch shot securing a Lakers victory that pushed them closer and closer to another championship parade. Those shots also inspired other players, such as Iowa senior forward Aaron White.
“Big fan of Robert Horry,” White said on Tuesday after working out at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Obviously everyone knows him for his clutch shooting. But at the same time, he was 6’9, 6’10, played small forward and power forward and could also shoot the 3. I liked players like that and I can see myself eventually building myself in a position for an NBA team.” Continue reading →
Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke at Cal State Long Beach Monday, May 05, 2014, Long Beach, CA. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze
The giddiness surrounding a Lakers pre-draft workout usually involves the prospect doing two things. They reflect on the team’s 16 NBA championships. They recall how they grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant.
The process became different from Michigan State’s Travis Trice and Branden Dawnson, both of whom already have interacted with Lakers legend Magic Johnson. He has often visited the Spartans’ campus, practice facility and games after leading them to a national championship his sophomore season in 1979.
“He always told us to play relentless,” Dawson said Tuesday after working out with the Lakers at their practice facility in El Segundo. “Just keep having that underdog attitude. He’s been great and has been pushing us throughout the tournament and Final Four. He’s a great guy. To see him come back and want to talk to us, that’s great.”
The Spartans heard that message so often that Trice lost count on how many times Johnson visited.
“His main thing was playing hard and playing smart and playing for your guy besides you,” Trice said. “You saw there were times in the game when the other team was arguing and we knew that’s when we had them. It stuck together.”
The enthusiasm seemed infectious as Duke center Jahlil Okafor flashed a wide smile and gushed endless about possibly wearing a Lakers uniform.
But the platitudes went beyond Okafor paying his respects to a storied franchise or expressing gratitude for working out for a NBA lottery team. Duke senior guard Quinn Cook saw Okafors’ affection for the Lakers up close after rooming together last season with the Blue Devils. Then, Cook said he “forced” Okafor to watch plenty of games on television featuring the purple and gold.
“He’s a Laker and knows a lot about the Lakers,” Quinn said of Okafor after working out with the Lakers on Monday at their practice facility in El Segundo. “He’s ready to go. Hopefully he falls to No. 2.”
Cook argued, “If I had the No. 1 pick, I would take Jahlil,” before praising his role in helping Duke win a national championship because of his post presence, passing and jump shooting. But Cook has no influence on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office. Instead, Cook jokingly praised his influence Okafor falling in love with the Lakers and deciding to train in Santa Barbara between draft workouts.
“I take all the credit for that,” Cook said. “Him, his father and his aunt, I’m right there for his love for the Lakers. He’s ready.”
Cook said he is ready as well, hopeful that the Lakers select him with the 27th and 34th pick after averaging 11 points on 43.2 percent shooting, 37.5 percent from 3-point range and 3.6 assists through four seasons at Duke. Cook called the Lakers “the best organization,” for both their 16 NBA championships and featuring his favorite NBA player, Kobe Bryant.
“I just remember him struggling at first,” Cook said of Bryant when he entered the NBA straight out of high school in 1996. “He came into the league and it was his show and he had to work playing with Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones. Then he took over with Shaq, winning three, going through a rough patch and then winning two more. It’s a winning tradition.”
Cook knew Bryant’s career trajectory fairly well partly because Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who coached the Lakers star with the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball teams in Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
“He knew how much I loved Kobe and how much I really loved the Lakers. I always joked with him that he should have taken the job back then,” Cook said of Krzyzewski, whom the Lakers pursued following Phil Jackson’s first departure in 2004. “But me and him have a great relationship. He has always shown me messages between him and Kobe.”
Krzyzewski also introduced Cook to Bryant last year when the Lakers visited Miami, though Cook said he had already met Bryant on earlier occasions.
“He remembered me. I was excited about that,” Cook said. “Everybody was sending me pictures of him at our game because everyone knows how much I love the Lakers.”
Hence, Cook said he’s “in heaven” after working out with the Lakers and constantly sending his mother photos wearing his favorite team’s jersey. The same could be said about Okafor should the Lakers use their coveted No. 2 pick to select him in the NBA Draft on June 25.
If he ran the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office, Cook argued he would.