Lakers extend Mitch Kupchak to multi-year deal

The Lakers have plenty of unanswered questions, ranging from Mike D’Antoni’s coaching status, who they will draft with their first-round pick and whether Kobe Bryant will ever fully recover from his fractured left knee.

But the Lakers took care of one issue that they hope will prove an instrumental part of their rebuilding. They signed Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak to a multi-year deal, a move made to ensure he wouldn’t enter lame-duck status next season in the final year of his contract.

Kupchak has overseen four NBA championships since succeeding Jerry West as the Lakers’ general manager for the 14 years. He has served an executive role since retiring as a player in 1986.

With the Lakers’ 145-130 loss Tuesday to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center ensuring they will finish with the worst season in franchise history since moving to Los Angeles 54 years ago, Kupchak’s extension reflects the Lakers’ trust he will help restore the team back to championship prominence.

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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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Steve Nash moves up to third place in all-time assists

During a failed Lakers season riddled with missed playoff fortunes and too many injuries to count, Steve Nash provided one dose of positive news.

The Lakers guard moved up to third place among the NBA’s all-time assists leaders, eclipsing Golden State coach Mark Jackson after tallying his sixth assist in the Lakers game Tuesday against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. After missing the past three games because of nerve irritation in his back, Nash came off the bench and broke the record after recording his fifth assist of the game with XX remaining in the XX quarter.

Nash’s record-breaking assist entailed throwing a cross-court pass to Jodie Meeks, who converted a two-handed dunk with 2:14 left in the second quarter. Nash also set up Meeks on another fast-break dunk, as well as a mid-range jumper for Jordan Hill and three-pointers for Jordan Farmar and Wesley Johnson. Once Nash left the game with 1:14 left in the second quarter, the fans at Staples Center gave him a rousing ovation.

The Lakers originally planned to shut Nash down once Jordan Farmar returned from a sprained right groin that sidelined him for the past 11 games. But Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni changed his mind in part so Nash could break the record.

“He’s healthy enough. We don’t want to go too crazy,” D’Antoni said. “But he can play some minutes and he wants to play. There’s some goals there. Why not. There’s some goals here. Why not? He can end up the year the best he can.”
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Rex Chapman believes John Calipari will coach Kentucky next season

Within a 24-hour span, former Kentucky star Rex Chapman penned Wildcats John Calipari replacing Mike D’Antoni as the coach of the Lakers as a “done deal” toward suddenly predicting otherwise.

“I’d still say Kentucky,” Chapman said Tuesday on The Dan Patrick Show. “Who knows. That’s what I know and hope. I don’t know.”
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Steve Nash says Mike D’Antoni wants him to return to move up on assists list

Steve Nash holds a theory on why he will play when the Lakers (25-51) host the Houston Rockets (51-25) at Staples Center.

Sure, Nash loves the game. The Lakers are in dire need of bodies considering Kent Bazemore’s season-ending right foot injury leaves them with an eight-man rotation. Even if the Lakers have no chance of making the playoffs, Nash wants to use the five remaining games as “a barometer” in what his offseason work will entail in healing the nerve irritation in his back.

But there’s another reason why Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni changed his decision to play Nash despite Jordan Farmar returning tonight after missing the past 11 games because of a strained right groin. Nash remains five assists away from climbing up to third place on the NBA’s all-time list.

“Mike really wants me to get this assist thing out of the way,” Nash said. “Now I would really like to get it out of the way frankly. It’s out there in the air and everybody is talking about it in a way.”
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Mike D’Antoni downplays refuted rumor that John Calipari will coach Lakers

This appeared to provide a temporary distraction from the Lakers’ failed season, their uncertain future and their mostly unwatchable games. Instead, the NCAA men’s basketball championship game between Kentucky and Florida soon morphed into another reminder about all of those elements.

Former Kentucky star Rex Chapman tweeted that Wildcats coach John Calipari would coach the Lakers regardless of the game’s outcome, a Huskies’ 60-54 victory. The Lakers immediately refuted the rumor, saying that Mike D’Antoni remains the team’s head coach. And the man who has spent the past two seasons fielding an injury-decimated roster, mixed enthusiasm for his fast-paced system and mostly non-existent support from a restless fanbase, D’Antoni tried to shrug it all off.

“Don’t worry about it,” D’Antoni said. “It is what it is. That’s the world we live in where before three years ago, there was a rumor one person heard. Now a million hear it.”
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Lakers refute Rex Chapman tweet that John Calipari will coach Lakers

Just before John Calipari set foot to coach Kentucky in the biggest college basketball game of the season, one of the Wildcats former stars predicted big things happening for his alma mater’s coach. It goes beyond winning the 2014 national championship against Connecticut.

Former Kentucky star Rex Chapman tweeted that Calipari will become the next Lakers’ coach.

Chapman cited no sources, nor did he provide any timetable. But no matter. The Lakers immediately refuted what Chapman reported in 140 characters.

“I spoke to [General Manager] Mitch Kupchak and he said the rumor is untrue,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “Mike D’Antoni is our coach. There have been no conversations about any specific names for any replacement.”

The Lakers have maintained that they will not evaluate D’Antoni’s until after the 2013-14 season. He will be owed a guaranteed $4 million next season, and has a team option for the 2015-16 season.

Meanwhile, Calipari is finishing up his fifth season at Kentucky, where he also won a national title in 2012. Calipari compiled a 72-112 in three seasons with the NBA’s former New Jersey Nets in the 1990s.

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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Kent Bazemore out for season with torn tendon in right foot

The Lakers have ruled Kent Bazemore out for the season after an MRI revealed a torn tendon in his right foot.

For those counting, that puts the Lakers (25-52) heading into Tuesday’s game against the Houston Rockets (51-25) at Staples Center fielding nearly as many injured players (seven) as healthy ones (eight) suited enough to play.

The Lakers have already penciled out Pau Gasol, who has missed the seven of the past eight games because of vertigo. Chris Kaman (strained right calf) is listed as doubtful, while Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back) is listed as questionable. Although Jordan Farmar has said he will play Tuesday after sitting out the past 11 games because of a strained right groin, the Lakers are also listing him as questionable. Meanwhile, the Lakers also have season-ending injuries to Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee) and Xavier Henry (torn ligament in left wrist, bone bruise in right knee).

Bazemore sprained his foot in the second quarter of the Lakers’ 120-97 loss Sunday to the Clippers at a designated road game at Staples Center. Bazemore was simply handling the ball at the top of the key before feeling what he described as a “pop,” but attributed the injury toward “overuse.”

The Lakers acquired Bazemore from Golden State and has averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 28 minutes through 23 games with the Lakers, a sharp increase from the 2.3 points per average in 6.1 minutes through 44 contests this season with the Warriors.

“It’s no one’s fault,” Bazemore said. “It’s just the penalty of working hard and playing a lot of minutes. It happens.”

Bazemore’s latest injury should open up time for a flurry of wing players, including Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and possibly even Marshon Brooks, who has appeared in nine of the last 15 games. He has averaged seven points in 15 games since the Lakers acquired him in the Golden State deal, which sent Steve Blake to the Warriors.

Bazemore, 24, will become a restricted free agent in July after making $762,195 this season. The Lakers have liked Bazemore’s energy, defense and willingness to correct his mistakes, including his shot selection and playmaking.

RELATED:

Xavier Henry to have surgeries Friday on left wrist, right knee

Kent Bazemore attributes right foot sprain to “overuse”

Lakers’ Jordan Farmar shows maturity, patience despite challenging 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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Xavier Henry to have surgeries Friday on left wrist, right knee

In this file photo, Utah Jazz's Brandon Rush, left, and Derrick Favors defend as Los Angeles Lakers' Xavier Henry (7) passes the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, in Salt Lake City. (Gene Sweeney Jr./The Associated Press file)

In this file photo, Utah Jazz’s Brandon Rush, left, and Derrick Favors defend as Los Angeles Lakers’ Xavier Henry (7) passes the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, in Salt Lake City. (Gene Sweeney Jr./The Associated Press file)

Lakers forward Xavier Henry will have surgery on Friday both to treat a torn ligament in his left wrist and repair a cartilage abnormality in his right knee.

The Lakers plan to release timetables after his surgeries, but Henry estimated last week that his knee surgery would involve a recovery that lasts between six to eight weeks. It’s not clear how long it will take for Henry’s left wrist to heal.

Henry averaged 10 points in 21.1 minutes through 43 games before the Lakers shut him down last week amid persisting pain in both his left wrist and right knee. He had missed 28 games because of bone bruises in his right knee and only one game because of his left wrist injury before vowing that he would play through it.

Henry, 23, was selected 12th overall in the 2010 NBA draft, but struggled both to stay healthy and find a role in three uneventful seasons with Memphis and New Orleans where he never averaged more than 5.3 points per game. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has praised Henry for his athleticism, driving and work ethic, but noted he needs to make improvements with his ball handling, shooting stroke and playing with more precision when he attacks the basket.

Henry will become a free agent in July after making just under $1 million this season.

RELATED:

Kent Bazemore attributes right foot sprain to “overuse”

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Lakers notes: Lakers nursing new injuries to Nick Young, Kent Bazemore

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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AM830 KLAA appearance entails Lakers talk on Mike D’Antoni, Kobe Bryant & Pau Gasol

Lakers Heads Coach Mike D'Antoni shouts at the officials in the first half. The Lakers played the Portland Trail Blazers in a regular season game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. April 1, 2014 (Photo by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers Heads Coach Mike D’Antoni shouts at the officials in the first half. The Lakers played the Portland Trail Blazers in a regular season game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. April 1, 2014 (Photo by John McCoy / Los Angeles Daily News)

The Lakers’ 120-97 loss to the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center marked yet another blow. The game featured yet another batch of the injuries, the latest victims falling to Nick Young (sore left knee) and Kent Bazemore (sprained right foot). Yet, there’s always stuff to talk about surrounding the purple and gold.

On my appearance Monday morning on “The Travis Rodgers Show” on AM830 KLAA, I addressed a flurry of topics that included:

-the Lakers injuries
-Mike D’Antoni’s future with the Lakers
-Kobe Bryant’s recovery
-Pau Gasol’s future with the Lakers

RELATED:

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Kent Bazemore attributes right foot sprain to “overuse”

Lakers’ Jordan Farmar shows maturity, patience despite challenging 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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Kent Bazemore attributes right foot sprain to “overuse”

With no one even close to him, Kent Bazemore stood at the top of the key, studying the defense and looking at how he could attack.

But before he could even shoot, dribble or drive past Clippers guard Darren Collison, Bazemore felt what he called “a little pop” in his right foot before falling to the floor. Bazemore recalled feeling a similar sensation when he fractured his left foot before his senior year at Old Dominion, an injury that ultimately required a permanent screw placed in his left foot.

Well before the Lakers’ 120-97 loss Sunday to the Clippers at a designated road game at Staples Center became official, Lakers teammates Robert Sacre and Jodie Meeks then helped Bazemore off the floor with 10:08 left in the second quarter. Shortly after, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti helped him to the locker room.

“I was like shocked,” Bazemore said. “Like, ‘Oh no, not again.’ So I just fell and cried a little bit.”

The worst-case scenario didn’t materialize. X-rays turned out negative. Bazemore will have an MRI on Monday. Should the test turn out clear, Bazemore plans to play the Lakers’ remaining five games. But how did such an injury occur in the first place?

“It was an overuse injury from playing six minutes to 35 minutes,” Bazemore said. “It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the penalty of working hard and playing a lot of minutes. It happens.”

The Lakers acquired Bazemore and seldom-used guard MarShon Brooks from Golden State for Steve Blake, a move the Lakers made both for cost-cutting purposes and to see if such young players could develop. Bazemore has averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 28 minutes through 23 games with the Lakers, a sharp increase from the 2.3 points per average in 6.1 minutes through 44 contests this season with the Warriors.

Bazemore hardly provided much of an impact against the Clippers, finishing with two points on 1 of 3 shooting and four assists in 11 minutes. But Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has raved about the 24-year-old Bazemore, ranging from his energy, athleticism and eagerness to improve. Considering he’ll become a restricted free agent after making $762,195 this season, Bazemore doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.

“I’m not in a position where I can afford to miss games,” Bazemore said. “My contract is up so I don’t have any room to be resting. I’ve played well since I’ve been here. But with me finishing out the season, I’ll play well to my advantage.”

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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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