Lakers guard Lou Williams: 'We just don’t want to see people slaughtered in the streets': As the Los Angeles Lakers ponder what kind of gesture they’ll make to protest social injustice, the issue remains on the mind of guard Lou Williams. “I understand police have a hard job to do, but the reasoning that these murders are happening, or whatever they want to call it, it’s troubling,” Williams said after a Lakers training camp practice in Santa Barbara. -- Los Angeles Times
Lakers keep emphasizing a defense-first approach: Offense is the fun part, but for most of training camp so far, Lakers Coach Luke Walton’s focus has been elsewhere. It’s been defense, which he thinks will allow theatrics on offense. -- Los Angeles Times
D'Angelo Russell might have coach, teammates willing to let him lead: A season after former coach Byron Scott often questioned Russell’s maturity, work habits and familiarity with the playbook, the second-year guard has made a different impression on first-year Lakers coach Luke Walton after three days of training camp and endless summer workouts. “He’s been great. He’s been professional. He’s been vocal,” Luke Walton said following Thursday’s practice at UC Santa Barbara. “He’s doing everything we’re asking.” A season after several of his veteran teammates pleaded patience for Russell’s want to start and run the offense as he sees fit, those same players are noticing and appreciating Russell’s looming presence. -- The Orange County Register
In fostering the Los Angeles Lakers' identity, Luke Walton avoids references to the Warriors: While Luke Walton’s pedigree includes being part of the Golden State Warriors’ incredible success during the past two seasons, he doesn’t like for those memories to crowd his coaching. When he addresses this Lakers team, he doesn’t tell many stories about the Warriors. “I don’t like doing that,” Walton said Wednesday after the Lakers practiced in Santa Barbara. “This is our team. This is who we are.” There are times when a nod to the Warriors can prove useful, however. -- Los Angeles Times
Jordan Clarkson embraces Luke Walton's challenge to become a good defender: The moment could have called for Jordan Clarkson to go on a shopping spree. Or he could have enjoyed a late night in Los Angeles. Or he could have felt validated, going from second-round pick to key part of the Lakers’ young core in just two years. Yet, Clarkson maintained he did not harbor any of those thoughts when he and the Lakers agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract on the first night of free agency in early July. Instead, Clarkson soon went to sleep to squeeze in a few hours of rest. -- The Orange County Register
If Coby Karl had a question about his craft last season, he could head down the hallway and knock on the door of an 11-time NBA champion. Or he could scroll through the contacts on his phone and call a coach who has won more than 1,100 NBA games.
Good luck finding a pair of coaching mentors more accomplished than Karl's first NBA boss, Phil Jackson, and his father, George Karl. Between the two coaching legends: 2,330 wins, 42 playoff appearances, 11 championships and an endless repository of basketball knowledge.
"I couldn't really ask for a better situation," Coby Karl said.
An assistant coach with the NBA D-League’s Westchester Knicks last season, Karl will find himself in a new situation in 2016-17. He was hired earlier this month as the head coach of the D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders.
In a sense, Coby will be following in the footsteps of his mentors, both of whom began their head-coaching careers in minor league hoops.
“Phil and my father got their start, or honed their skills, in the CBA [Continental Basketball Association]," Karl said. "That’s why I look at this as such a powerful position or such a great opportunity for anyone. The only way that we become better at what we do is to practice it. My ambition is to be a head coach at the highest level one day, and the only way to practice something is doing it.”
Karl got plenty of practice last season with Westchester. He spent the year working on head coach Mike Miller's staff, helping to implement the club’s triangle offense and tutor players individually. Karl also compiled scouting reports for half Westchester's games, splitting the load with fellow assistant and former NBA player Derrick Alston.
I told him to go into coaching. I said, I'm tired of you playing and then moaning and groaning in the middle of January saying, 'Why the hell am I doing this?'
- George Karl, on his son, Coby, getting into coaching
It often wasn't glamorous work. Unlike their NBA counterparts, D-League teams and their staffs don't stay in five-star hotels on road trips. They don't fly charter, so Karl and the rest of the team had to deal with airport delays and cancellations, just as any other commercial traveler would. And there were long hours. Some nights last season, Karl headed to bed around 2:30 a.m. and was up around 6:30 to prepare the next scouting report. Many coaches keep the same sleep schedule, but that doesn't make it any less taxing.
"I knew it wouldn't be easy, but that's what makes it all fun," Karl said. "If it's easy, it's not as fun."
There might be some who see Coby Karl’s new role in Los Angeles and assume he used his last name to gain an edge. But those who know Coby say assuming as much would be a mistake.
In many ways, Karl has spent a lifetime preparing for his new gig. Growing up, he often hung around his dad's Seattle SuperSonics and Milwaukee Bucks teams.
As a ball boy for the Sonics, he sometimes attended coaches' meetings before road shootarounds and practices, and he heard firsthand the frustration his father and others experienced when they couldn't reach one of their players. He has also seen the other side of things, when coaches and players worked together to produce unexpected results.
"I grew up on that side of the ball," Karl said. “I watched [assistant coach] Tim Grgurich in Seattle work with guys and saw Jason Hart make himself an NBA player. I saw Eric Snow, Michael Redd make themselves NBA players. Those guys would show up hours early and work. That's stuff that no one really saw, but I was able to.”
Karl still remembers life lessons he learned from former players Nate McMillan, Shawn Kemp, Hersey Hawkins, Gary Payton, Frank Brickowksi and Sam Perkins.
“When I was younger and I was really molding who I was as a person, I learned a lot from those guys," he said.
One lesson from Perkins stood out. During a playoff series, Karl was positioned under the basket, tasked with mopping up wet spots on the floor. On one possession, Perkins slipped on a spot on the floor, saw Karl and screamed some unkind words at him.
“I’d never seen him like that,” Karl said of Perkins, who was known as one of the nicest guys in the NBA.
Before the next game, Perkins sought out Karl and apologized. It left an impression on a young Karl.
“Seeing a man step up, admit his mistake and apologize, as a young kid, that taught me something,” he said.
Karl’s basketball résumé, of course, includes much more than working as a ballboy for the Sonics.
He was a standout high school player in Milwaukee. At Boise State, he led the team in scoring as a junior and senior. After college, Karl signed as an undrafted free agent with the Lakers in 2007. He spent parts of two seasons with Los Angeles and the Cleveland Cavaliers and later had a 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors. Karl also played in Spain, Italy, Germany and in the D-League, most recently with the Reno Bighorns in 2015.
In the summer of 2015, he was considering signing another contract with an overseas club when his father intervened.
"I told him to go into coaching," George Karl said. "I said, I'm tired of you playing and then moaning and groaning in the middle of January [of a season overseas] saying, 'Why the hell am I doing this?'
"You say you want to coach, and then someone offers you $150K to play in Europe, you're going to Europe. Money should not be your motivator right now. [Your motivator] should be your passion."
Coby Karl mulled things over, and when an opportunity to join his father's staff in Sacramento fell through, he decided to join Jackson and then-head coach Derek Fisher in New York.
"I kind of look at my time with my dad as a ball boy and then as a player as a 20-year internship for this," said Karl, who, like his father, is a cancer survivor. "I want to affect people's lives in a powerful way through the teaching of basketball and through the things I've learned in my life."
Karl eventually wants to coach in the NBA, but climbing the coaching ladder can be a long, arduous process. He understands that better than most.
"He's ready to work," George Karl says of his son. "He's ready to serve his time."
George Karl believes his son’s perspective as a player will help him in the coaching profession.
“I think Coby’s seen some great things,” George Karl said. “He’s played with LeBron, played with Kobe. He’s been on championship-caliber teams. ... He also kind of has a piece, from a psychological standpoint, of how [coaches] touch and motivate players.”
That experience certainly helps Coby Karl relate to young D-League players. But naturally, there were some challenges in his first season transitioning to the bench.
Karl said helping players improve their weaknesses last season was more difficult at times than he'd hoped. And players' taking the coaching staff's corrections and translating them to games "didn't happen as often as you'd like."
Both George Karl and Jackson can probably relate, which is what made their coaching conversations with Coby so valuable.
Coby Karl said he called his father about once a week last season to talk basketball strategy. Dad shared with his son some of the scouting videos the Kings have put together on opponents.
“He’s been through so many situations, and he’s had so many players and different teams and successes and failures that basically, it’s an encyclopedia of situations,” he said of his dad.
With Jackson, Karl spent time talking basketball philosophy.
“Phil is obviously a unique person. I don’t know if he ever gave me advice," Karl said. "We exchanged stories, and I asked questions. He talked about some of his beliefs, his experiences and the way that he sees the game."
George Karl smiles when asked about his son seeking advice from Jackson, a man he competed with on the bench for many years.
“The great conversation Coby and I have is that [Phil and I] are really different, but we’re really saying the same things,” he said. “I think Coby’s witnessed that. He’s experienced that."
Coby Karl will take the advice of both Jackson and his father with him to the D-Fenders’ sideline this year, advice that includes a theme both men followed almost religiously.
“The one thing I’ve learned from both of them: There’s not one way to do it. Do it your own way. Be yourself. Find your way,” he said. “Mostly, there was a sense that I’m going to have to figure it out for myself, enjoy the ups and downs of it and enjoy the experience.”
That approach seemed to benefit Phil and George. It should work well for young Coby too.
Brandon Ingram impresses teammates on first day of Lakers training camp: Brandon Ingram’s head peaked over the group encircling Larry Nance Jr. as Nance praised the rookie’s first day of training camp. “B.I. held his own,” Nance said. “I’ve been saying all along he can play. He’s the real deal.” But when Nance saw Ingram’s face appear, grinning, he quickly reversed. -- Los Angeles Times
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak wants to win more this season, but won't set a specific target: Sometimes Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak is glad he’s up in his office instead of down on the practice court where the millennials he’s employed are practicing with their loud music blaring. “Some of it has to be censored, so we have to be careful who else is in the gym,” the 62-year-old Kupchak said, lightly. -- Los Angeles Times
Luke Walton's first Lakers training camp practice is music to players' ears: The visual outside his office window usually told Mitch Kupchak some important aspects about his team. With his second-floor workspace overseeing the practice court, the Lakers’ general manager could see a few key details up close. He could evaluate how often and how hard players worked. Kupchak could also view how a coach organized practice. But as the Lakers continued informal summer workouts, Kupchak witnessed something he called “completely new.” -- The Orange County Register
Jim Buss' self-imposed timeline creates juicy drama for Lakers' front office: The new-look Lakers took the court for their first slate of practices Tuesday after three years of unprecedented losing. The word of the day was “beginning.” It was a “new beginning” and an “exciting beginning,” according to Mitch Kupchak. And with a clutch of players in the infancy of their careers, a first-year head coach and no aging superstars for whom every consideration must be made, the Lakers general manager is correct. The organization has indeed turned a page. -- The Orange County Register
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- From his second-floor office in the Los Angeles Lakers training facility in El Segundo, California, general manager Mitch Kupchak can overlook the practice court to watch players work.
Lately, however, Kupchak is hearing much more than the squeak of sneakers or the bounce of the ball.
There's music. A lot of it.
"Actually, sometimes I'm glad I'm in my office rather than on the court, because it's loud," Kupchak said Tuesday morning before the Lakers opened training camp at UC Santa Barbara.
The music is new -- and the change can be traced to the Golden State Warriors.
Under Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, players could choose what music to play during practice, and Luke Walton, who spent the past two years as an assistant under Kerr, noticed an impact.
"The players, you can see a little bounce in their step when we had music going," Walton said this week.
So when Walton was hired to coach the Lakers, he decided to bring that tradition to L.A.
In all, it marks one more aspect of the Lakers' culture that is changing under Walton, who hopes to instill a more joy-based environment, much like the one the Warriors have forged under Kerr.
So far, Lakers players say they are enjoying the new trend.
"I know with a few of my teammates, playing a certain type of music, the vibe is different," said Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell. "Then when you play that type of music, it gets you excited and hype and rowdy, the whole vibe changes."
Walton said he leaves the music choices to the players and even staffers, who can rotate different playlists.
"We'll do something on player's birthdays," Walton said. "If it's my birthday, maybe I'll put together a playlist, but for the most part, that will be on the players, whoever we decide to make captains or whoever likes music the most."
There wasn't too much music playing during the Lakers' first day of practice, however.
"We'd like to do more, but there's so much teaching right now," Walton said. "It's counterproductive to have music playing when you're trying to teach, but once we get familiar with the drills, we'll be able to play more of it."
From his office, the 62-year-old Kupchak said some of the music "has to be censored, so we have to be careful who else is in the gym. I guess that's just a part of the times. But it's a little racy."
Walton laughed when told of Kupchak's comment that some of the music might be "racy."
"From his perspective, probably, yes," Walton said. "From mine and the players, I don't think our viewpoint is the same on censuring the music. I think we have a nice mix going. I enjoy pushing Mitch out of his comfort zone. He's been great. A lot of fun to work with. He's got a good sense of humor once you get to know him."
But Ingram's quest toward that award will begin on the bench rather than being in the starting lineup.
"That drives me," Ingram said during the team's media day on Monday. "If it was given, it wouldn't drive me as much to be the best player that I can be. Just coming off the bench and showing that I can be one of the best players on the floor, I think it just gives me motivation to work hard each and every day."
The Lakers' plan to initially utilize Ingram as a reserve is part of a bigger-picture strategy to help ease the 19-year-old and former Duke standout into the grind of the NBA's 82-game regular-season schedule, especially as Ingram works to strengthen his thin 6-foot-9, 190-pound frame.
"I think it's going to be a long season on a young player that has to be stronger, has to get stronger, has to show that he can play for 82 games," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday as the team opened training camp at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
"I don't anticipate that [Ingram] would start. It's not something that I think has to happen, even though he's the No. 2 pick."
Kupchak added of Ingram, "He's got to continue to work not only on his game but he's got to continue to work on stamina and getting stronger in his league. Certainly we've had players in this league that did not have great strength that were very successful, but there is a part of me that says 82 games, he has to work on every day taking care of his body, his diet, rest and make it through an 82-game season, because I think he's going to play a lot.
"Our other rookie [center Ivica Zubac
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The clock is ticking ever closer toward a potential front-office shakeup for the NBA’s glamour franchise, the once mighty -- but now rebuilding -- Los Angeles Lakers.
The timeline was first set in April 2014, when Lakers part-owner and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss told the Los Angeles Times that he would step down within three years if the team hadn’t made a deep playoff run by then.
The Lakers, who opened training camp at UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, are entering the final season of Buss' self-imposed deadline -- one that Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss has time and again publicly stated that she will make sure her brother honors.
There’s a chance -- if not a strong possibility -- that Jim Buss’ potential departure won’t be the only one within the Lakers front office, though it’s unclear what exactly might happen. It has long been widely speculated, though, that if Jim Buss departs, so too would Lakers longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak.
In the past, Kupchak has deferred questions about Jim Buss’ deadline to turn around the Lakers, who have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and are coming off their worst campaign in franchise history after finishing 17-65 last season.
And Kupchak again deferred such questions as the youthful Lakers, without the retired Kobe Bryant, opened training camp.
“I’m not really in a position to debate some of the stuff,” Kupchak said. “I’m not even sure what was said with certainty. From my point of view, we’ve created a team that has a lot of young talent that can grow into, I believe, really good [players] and hopefully NBA players that can leave an imprint on this league.
“I think we’ve surrounded them with some older veterans that can help us win games. I’m excited about our coaching staff. I want to see improvement in the young players. I want to see some production from our rookies. And I want our team to be fun to watch. And I want them to have fun playing. And I want them to get better as the season goes along.
"I don’t know how that translates to anything else under my control. Wins and losses, I couldn’t pick a number. I could guess. I would not guess in front of [media]. That’s not something I would do. I’d have to stare at it for the rest of the year.”
Kupchak did state, however, that the Lakers’ improvement would be measured in part by wins.
“Last year, we had 17 [wins],” Kupchak said. “It’s got to be more than 17. It can’t be a game or two more. We have to show progress. Are we a playoff team? Are we a contending team? Anything can happen at any time in the season. We’ve seen that here in our organization when you make a deal and all of the sudden things turn around. Clearly that’s a possibility, but we’re not going into the season thinking that’s what we’re going to do.
“We want these young players to get minutes, to develop. We think several of them can be starters and perhaps even leave an imprint in this league. That’s my approach, and that’s my take on where we want this team and where I want this team to go this season.”
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. –- Before holding media day for the 2016-17 season at their training facility on Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers' coaches and players met to discuss athletes' recent national anthem protests against unjust treatment of African-Americans in the United States, a movement that first gained recognition from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
"It's obviously a very serious, important issue," said Lakers first-year head coach Luke Walton. "I think something needs to be done. This country is too great to have happen what keeps happening. What that is, we'll decide as a group and continue to talk about what we can do.
"But I think, most importantly, it's what we get behind as an organization, individually and as a team. I know a lot of the media runs with what happens during the national anthem, which is a very big subject, because it's touchy from both sides. But to me, it's about what kind of change can we make. And that comes from getting with organizations that are in action within the community and giving out time, money and whatever else we can to help this problem get fixed."
Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. said players discussed possibly locking arms and that the team's coaching staff and front office said they'll support the players' decision.
"Obviously, something needs to be done about this in the United States today," Nance said. "But as far as my stance, we as a team are currently in discussions of what we're going to do as a group, as a whole. That's something that I think the brand of the Lakers can really make an impact on."
As forward Julius Randle added, "I think definitely there's a way for us to all get together and making an impact on what's going on. Guys need to say something, and something needs to be said."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant is gone, sort of.
At their practice facility Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers held their first media day in two decades without their now-retired icon, but questions about Bryant -- about his legacy, his lessons and who now becomes the face of the NBA's glamor franchise -- dominated interviews as they did throughout his historic career.
"I can sense him. He's here," said Lakers swingman Metta World Peace, who won an NBA championship alongside Bryant in 2010. "He's always going to be here. This is the Lakers organization and, yeah, the Mamba is still here."
Perhaps Bryant is still with the team in spirit. Lakers forward Julius Randle said he recently worked out with Bryant and glowingly praised Bryant's intelligence, detailed understanding and competitive edge. And World Peace said that he visited Bryant's "entrepreneurial office" earlier this summer, and the two chatted about books that Bryant is working on.
"I'm really excited about his books," added World Peace, who didn't clarify their literary genre. "I can't wait to read his first book."
Key questions for Lakers going into training camp: A franchise that has expected excellence for most of its history now heads into a transitional period that demands patience as it rebuilds. The Lakers finished last season 17-65, the worst record in franchise history, four games worse than the previous mark set just one season earlier. The road back won’t be quick or easy. But patience will work only if coupled with progress. -- Los Angeles Times
Questions abound as Lakers prepare for life after Kobe Bryant: For the first time in 20 years, Kobe Bryant won’t be in the Lakers’ practice facility. Title banners still adorn the walls there, but the Lakers aren’t likely to invoke “championship or bust” rhetoric this season with an intriguing but unproven roster. The post-Kobe Lakers go into Monday’s annual Media Day in El Segundo with many unanswered questions, some of which they will begin tackling when they open training camp Tuesday at UC Santa Barbara. -- The Orange County Register
The Lakers announced the deal Friday.
The 36-year-old World Peace returned to the Lakers last season after winning a title during his first four years with the franchise from 2009 to '13. He appeared in 35 games last season, largely serving as a veteran leader and mentor during the worst season in Lakers history.
World Peace has played in 966 games for six NBA teams during his career, which began with Chicago in 1999. He was an All-Star and the NBA's defensive player of the year in 2004.
He then received the longest suspension in NBA history in late 2004 for his role in the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl, but he has become a model teammate and leader who received the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2011.
The Lakers have 20 players on coach Luke Walton's first roster as they head to training camp in Santa Barbara next week.
Houston, New Orleans and Oklahoma City are meeting the media Friday. The NBA's other 27 teams open for business Monday.
So it's time!
Time for the return of ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings, with your faithful Committee of One back to oversee the ladder for its 15th successive season.
LeBron James and his title-winning Cavaliers -- how does that sound, Cleveland? -- naturally start out on top, upholding our longstanding tradition which mandates that the No. 1 spot must be where the defending champions open. That means Golden State, fresh off becoming the first team in ESPN history to sit atop this poll from wire-to-wire last season, must settle for No. 2, launching our first good rankings debate of the new season.
Friendly annual reminder: Our Training Camp edition of the rankings is not meant to be a predicted order of finish in each conference. This introductory batch gives significant weight to a team's personnel successes (or failures) from the summer -- as well as any injuries -- when sorting the 1-to-30 order. Which should explain, for example, why Oklahoma City has tumbled to No. 10 after losing Kevin Durant in free agency. Or why Miami, no longer home to Dwyane Wade and facing an uncertain future given the status of Chris Bosh, opens at No. 20.
Metta World Peace has agreed to return to the Los Angeles Lakers on a one-year deal, he told ESPN.
"I'm excited about everything. I'm prepared to help the young guys grow. To play, everything," he said.
After playing in China in 2014, World Peace returned to the NBA last season, appearing in 35 games and averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in limited action. Much like last season, the Lakers added the popular veteran to their training camp roster to provide leadership with their young players, whom he'd been working out with at their facility over the summer.
World Peace, 36, is also a former teammate of new Lakers coach Luke Walton.
"Luke's always been like a coach, even when he was playing," World Peace said.
The Lakers already have 14 guaranteed contracts, not including the partially guaranteed contract they have out to Yi Jianlian, the 7-foot star of the China's national team. World Peace said his deal was "the same as last year," when he played his way onto the roster with an non-guaranteed contract.
The agreement was first reported by TheLead Sports.