In nod to Warriors, Lakers cranking up tunes during practice

September, 27, 2016
Sep 27
4:05
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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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."

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers No. 2 draft pick Brandon Ingram is carrying goals into his rookie season, one of them being to win NBA Rookie of the Year honors.

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


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Clock ticking toward potential front-office shakeup for Lakers

September, 27, 2016
Sep 27
1:40
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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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.

Lakers front officeAP Photo/Greg BeachamLakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, new coach Luke Walton and team owner Jim Buss aim to improve on last season's 17 wins.

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.”

Lakers discuss best ways to make statement as a team

September, 26, 2016
Sep 26
6:30
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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AP Photo/Nick UtAfter meeting with Lakers players about the issues behind the national anthem protests of athletes, first-year coach Luke Walton acknowledged that "something needs to be done" and that "what that is, we'll decide as a group."

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."

Kobe BryantHarry How/Getty ImagesThe Lakers' media day Monday left an impression that they are ready for a style of play that doesn't focus on Kobe Bryant.

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."


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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

Lakers re-sign Metta World Peace for 17th NBA season

September, 23, 2016
Sep 23
4:22
PM PT

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have re-signed veteran forward Metta World Peace, who will attempt to win a roster spot for his 17th NBA season.

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.


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NBA Power Rankings: Training Camp edition

September, 21, 2016
Sep 21
12:45
PM PT
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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.


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Ron ArtestKevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesMetta World Peace, a 15-year NBA veteran, has agreed to another year with the Lakers.

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.


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Yi Jianlian on NBA re-entry: I think I’ll have no problem with that

September, 16, 2016
Sep 16
4:25
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- So much unknown surrounds Yi Jianlian as the former lottery pick prepares to return to the NBA following a four-year absence.

It's unclear exactly what the 7-footer's role with the Los Angeles Lakers will be in first-year head coach Luke Walton's new system.

It's undecided what position Yi will play.

And, above all else, it remains to be seen just how effective Yi will be, especially after playing with the Guandong Southern Tigers from 2012 to '16 following brief but lackluster stints with the Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks.

Yi JianlianFrederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty ImagesYi Jianlian met the media Friday in what he hopes will be a triumphant return to the NBA.

But if Friday proved anything, it's that there is plenty of interest and intrigue in the 28-year-old, who was surrounded by about three dozen media members –- local and international –- after his workout at the Lakers' training facility.

Yi, a former No. 6 overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Bucks, expressed confidence about the upcoming season after playing in the Chinese Basketball Association, and after averaging 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds for China in its five games in the Rio Olympics.

He also said he felt that the Lakers were a "good opportunity" and that the "timing" was right for an NBA return.

"I think I played a lot of games in China, in Asia, Olympics," said Yi, who joined the Lakers on a one-year deal worth about $8 million, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein. "It's a lot of experience. For me I probably got stronger and more confidence."

He also recognized that the Lakers have a "huge" fan base in China -– thanks largely to Kobe Bryant –- as well as all over the world.

"I feel pressure, but I feel very excited for that," Yi said.

He couldn't offer up much in the way of specifics about what the coming season has in store for him, as much of that is still to be determined, but Yi did say that he likes to shoot 3-pointers, and that he believes he can space the floor.

Yi added that he never felt frustration about his first NBA go-around not having worked out so well. Instead, he said he just told himself to focus on working hard and playing hard. "That's all I can do," he said.

He also said he's not worried about re-adjusting to the NBA after his time away.

"I think I'll have no problem with that," he said. "I can do it."

Go to: Starters | Reserves

How will D'Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and the Los Angeles Lakers do in 2016-17?

Here are our player scouting reports and analysis.

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On September 17, 2016, Phil Jackson celebrates his 71st birthday. Take a look back at the 13-time NBA champion as a player on the Knicks and the head coach of the Bulls and Lakers.

Shaq-spiration for Yasiel Puig?

September, 13, 2016
Sep 13
3:05
PM PT
By One Nación
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Yasiel Puig has been making the most of his return from the minors late in the season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In a single at-bat against the New York Yankees as a pinch hitter, Puig hit a home run.

So in this series, Puig's current average against the Yankees is 1.000, the proverbial "batting a thousand."

Perhaps the Cuban player was inspired by a fortuitous meeting with former Los Angeles icon, basketball great Shaquille O'Neal. Puig certainly seemed excited about seeing O'Neal, who was recently inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame.

Click here to follow all the latest information on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'NealAP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Time to take a trip down Memory Lane.

For you Taco Bell fans, the double decker might be a household favorite by now. But in 1995 it was fresh on the market, and it debuted with an unforgettable double-decker duo headlining the campaign.

Feast your eyes on Shaquille O'Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon on a bicycle built for two riding through Central Park. When the ad campaign was released, Olajuwon's Houston Rockets had just swept Shaq's Orlando Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals to repeat as champions.

Later, Shaq would have "Taco neck syndrome" in Taco Bell ads when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers.

-- Courtney Schellin


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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
17.6 2.8 0.9 28.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Randle 10.2
AssistsM. Huertas 3.4
StealsD. Russell 1.2
BlocksT. Black 0.5