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Category: Darius Morris

NBA lockout: Darius Morris has no regrets turning pro

Darius Morris has no second thoughts about leaving Michigan for the NBA.

With the NBA lockout appearing to have no end in sight, Lakers rookie guard Darius Morris remains hunkered in local college and high school gyms.

But Morris maintained after a workout Wednesday at Loyola Marymount University that he prefers this routine than returning to University of Michigan for his junior season. Morris considered the prospect of a lost 2011-2012 campaign before giving up his final two years of eligibility, and said he holds zero regrets. 

"Playing against pros will translate better in improving my game from the college to pro level," Morris said. "There's a lot of positives to leaving early. The opportunity in my position with the Lakers is something a lot of people desire to have."

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Five things Darius Morris needs for a successful season

Darius MorrisThis is the 13th post in a series focusing on five things each Lakers player must do to have a successful 2011-12 season (assuming there is one, of course).

1. Be a playmaker. This should become Morris' biggest strength considering he led the Big Ten Conference season in assists (6.7) last season. It also would help him distinguish himself. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will immediately like him if he passes them the ball.  

2. Improve outside shooting. Morris has spent most of his off-season improving his three-point shot since he averaged only 25% during his sophomore season at Michigan. Tyrell Jamerson, a former Nevada Las Veags guard who trained Morris this summer, says he mostly worked on shooting jumpers instead of set shots because it better simulates defenders trying to stop them. Regardless of Morris' approach, it's crucial that he develops at least a decent shot. 

Since the Lakers lacked a strong outside shooter last season, Morris would immediately earn more playing time if he shows a good outside shot. Also, it would force defenses to actually play honest against him since most might first look to limit his passing abilities. 

3. Add speed/athleticism. Morris doesn't bring much quickness, but he needs to add energy to a veteran team. That would help in leading the Lakers in transition and stopping those quick guards they never seem to be able to defend.

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Players union vows in letter not to back down

David Stern

--Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix obtained a letter Players Assn. President Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter wrote to union members where it states it's going to hold its ground during negotiations.

--The Times' Ben Bolchreports that Lakers rookies Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock have maintained the tight-budget lifestyle they had in college because of the NBA lockout.

--ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussardreports that top-level agents have backed away from pushing the union to decertify.

--Ball Don't Lie's Dan Devine features a funny photo of Hunter and Kobe Bryant. Clearly, Kobe doesn't look too optimistic about both sides reaching a deal any time soon.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky talk to Grantland's Jonathan Abrams about his recent story on Jerry West.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne argues that Lakers owner Jerry Buss' openness toward revenue sharing isn't the final hand he's dealing.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano maintains optimism regarding the NBA lockout.

Tweet of the Day: "I'll be shocked if David Stern and Billy Hunter don't meet between now and Sunday night. Only question is if we'll find out where." -- RicBucher (ESPN the Magazine's Ric Bucher)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "Billionaires flexing their dollars to wear down unions. Its happening all over the country. Billionaires buying publicity and politicians and publicity to wear down the public support for unions is also happening all over the country, although not in this particular case." -- Joe Gallagher

--Mark Medina

Photo: NBA Commissioner David Stern says the first two weeks of the regular season could be scrapped if a labor agreement is not reached soon. Credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images / October 4, 2011)

Darius Morris to play in exhibition games in Mexico

Darius Morris to play in exhibition games in Mexico
Darius Morris is about to break his routine of morning workouts at Loyola Marymount University and evening scrimmages at Costa Mesa High school.

The Lakers' rookie guard and former University of Michigan and Los Angeles Windward High product is set to fly to Mexico on Thursday morning to appear in a pair of exhibition games, according to his agent, Brian Dyke, who declined to say whether Morris would receive any compensation for the appearance.

The Times' Ben Bolch first highlighted the possibility that Morris would head south of the border, but Morris' plans then weren't definitive. The two exhibition games are scheduled to take place Thursday in Culiacan and Saturday in Najera, and various NBA players are also to participate in youth clinics beforehand. As first reported by Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears, the list of players involved also includes the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, Dallas' Tyson Chandler, New Orleans' Trevor Ariza, Portland's Marcus Camby and others. 

"He just needs to get the feel of being a professional," said Tyrell Jamerson, a former UNLV guard who's trained Morris this summer. "He just needs to get his feet wet and get some time to get on the floor against professional players."

RELATED:

Discussing Darius Morris with AnnArbor.com's Michael Rothstein

Darius Morris brings strong passing skills to the Lakers

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo credit: Michael Conroy / Associated Press

NBA lockout: Training camp postponement really hurts Lakers

Kobe Bryant

In less than a week, the Lakers had planned to enter the team's practice facility in El Segundo, hold court with the media and then officially start training camp.

That won't happen. Instead, the Lakers will miss training camp, sit out at least three exhibition games and wonder when the season might start. This isn't exactly a surprise. Serious negotiations, which resume again Tuesday, won't start until players begin missing paychecks. Even if preseason games hardly predict how a regular season pans out, the Lakers enter the 2011-2012 campaign with different circumstances and need training camp to iron out various issues.

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NBA Hall of Fame: Tex Winter attends Hall of Fame press conference

Tex Winter*We will be hosting a live chat at 4:45 p.m. to coincide with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. Tune in to NBA TV at 5 p.m. 

--The Times' Bill Plaschke argues Dennis Rodman shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper and the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson details Tex Winter's surprise appearance at Thursday's news conference showcasing this year's Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductees.

--ESPN.com features Winter's career profile.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding spots Lakers rookie Darius Morris and Luke Walton playing pickup basketball in Manhattan Beach.

--Sports Illustrated's Paul Forrester details how Winter's famed triangle offense continues to disappear in the NBA.

--Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin pokes fun at Ron Artest for talking about accepting a deal with the Cheshire Jets before finalizing the contract. 

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky argues it's a bad idea for Artest to play with the Cheshire Jets.

--Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Winter wants Phil Jackson and Jerry Krause to shake hands at the induction ceremony. 

--NBAtradetracker.net breaks down how the Lakers secured Magic Johnson in the video below. 

--Lakers Nation's Brian Chaplain suggests Lakers owner Jerry Buss should give his son, Jim Buss, a list of pointers on how to run the team. 

--SB Nation's Mike Prada looks at Winter's role in being a key architect of the triangle offense. 

Tweet of the Day: "“@STEIN_LINE_HQ: Metta World Peace in a British soap opera? That's one possibility Chester Jets to secure rons signature” Oh yea!!!!" -- ronartest (Lakers forward Ron Artest to ESPN.com's Marc Stein)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "I do not really believe it untill I see him playing in Great Britain." -- Martina Kienzle

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Tex Winter. Credit: Associated Press

How can the Lakers upgrade at point guard?

6a00d8341c506253ef014e89569edb970d-320wiThe consensus on how to make the Lakers better next season involves addressing the point guard spot.

Former Coach Phil Jackson suggested it in his final exit interview when he said the Lakers need to add "more speed" to their veteran-laden roster. Former Laker Robert Horry clamored for it when he acknowledged at the ESPYs that Derek Fisher's "age has caught up to him." And team General Manager Mitch Kupchak has tabbed the position as the off-season's No. 1 priority.

But as we all found out growing up, just because you put something on a holiday or birthday wish list didn't always mean our parents listened. Likewise, just because we want to buy a beach house, drive a sleek convertible or take an extended vacation around the world doesn't mean it's going to happen.

On the Lakers' end, they face plenty of constraints. No one knows what the next collective bargaining agreement will look like and how much the Lakers can draw from their mid-level exception. They are coming off a season that featured a $91-million payroll, and their core players are locked into long-term contracts. In other words, the Lakers aren't going to be able to add an All-Star point guard at the flip of a switch. But here are some options on how they can address their point guard needs.

6a00d8341c506253ef014e611163e9970c-800wiSave up for Deron Williams or Chris Paul.

As most Laker fans have noticed when consulting these various free-agent profiles, the options are pretty limited. So as much as it's necessary for the Lakers to address their point guard needs, it's  unrealistic to expect them to suddenly bolster it. Instead, the Lakers would be better off working with what they have and then gear up for when Williams and Paul become free agents after the 2011-2012 season, presuming neither sign extensions with their current teams. Both players are starved for a championship. Both show elite point-guard skills. And both have much respect for Kobe Bryant.

This approach won't solve the Lakers' problems right away and could keep the team from winning a title next season. But making a push for a trade or a free agent this year might do more harm than good. It would require the Lakers to give away some of their resources for a short-term gain at the expense of a long-term investment. Any slight upgrade at point guard this year still may not result in an NBA title, and it would give the Lakers less positioning power to go after Williams or Paul next off-season. Because of how highly coveted they are and the salary Williams ($16.4 million) and Paul ($16.359 million) would command for next season, the Lakers would have to be tight with their finances this year.

It would be shortsighted, however, for the Lakers to simply unload salaries much like the New York Knicks did in making an unsuccessful attempt at LeBron James, because it would put them in a weaker position to win a title in the future. Andrew Bynum will have a team option in 2012-2013 for $16.1 million, but I highly doubt the Lakers would let him go unless they could get Dwight Howard. Lamar Odom enters next season with two years and $17 million left on his contract, including a team option in the 2012-2013 season worth a partially guaranteed $8.2 million, giving the team some possible wiggle room there. But other than those two scenarios, the Lakers would have to make small tinkerings to ensure they're financially in a position to get either Howard or Paul.

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How will the Lakers' bench perform under Mike Brown?

Mike Brown

The questions surrounding the Mike Brown hire centers on a few fundamental questions.

First and foremost, there's hand-wringing over whether he's the right man to coach the Lakers. Fueled partly by Kobe Bryant's refusal to comment on the hire and by the widely held perception that the Cavaliers fired him in 2010 to appease LeBron James, many wonder how Brown will work with the Lakers' superstar.

Because of Brown's hope to have a faster-paced offense and mostly scrap the triangle system, many believe that Derek Fisher will have a reduced role. And with Brown's hope to have an offense centered on Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum receiving looks off pick-and-rolls, many wonder how that philosophy will mix with Brown wanting to still ensure Bryant receives a high volume of shots in his sweet spots. 

There's also one significant area that will determine Mike Brown's success on the Lakers, the team's bench. It's difficult to fully evaluate this issue because the Lakers' roster might be different when the 2011-12 season actually starts, if it starts at all. In light of an uncertain collective bargaining agreement and the Lakers' long-term deals to their core roster, both owner Jerry Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak have continuously said they want to make "tweaks" to the roster, a code word that acknowledges the Lakers' financial limitations and the likelihood that any changes will be made among the reserves rather than the starters.

And there's some uncertainty regarding who from the 2010-11 Lakers bench will return, including Lamar Odom (whose two-year, $17-million contract is an attractive option for other teams), Shannon Brown (who opted out of his $2.37-million contract), Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks (both of whom have team options for $788,872) and rookies Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Ater Majok (each of which has received no guarantee from Kupchak that he will make the actual roster). 

After the jump is my take on which of the Lakers reserves are likely to remain on the team and how they will fare under Brown. 

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NBA lockout: Kobe Bryant has derivation of PRP therapy on right knee and may play in China

62918047We'll have a chat at 12:30 p.m. Bring all your questions!

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner report that Kobe Bryant had a derivation of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy on his right knee about a month ago in Germany.

--The Times' Baxter Holmes reports that Bryant might play exhibition games in China.

--The Times' Douglas Farmer notes that NBA websites have been stripped of player images during the lockout.

--The Times’ Lisa Dillman details how the NBA lockout is affecting players, including members of the Lakers.

--The Times' Mark Heisler doesn't see much progress being in the near future on resolving the lockout.

--The Times' Lance Pugmire compares and contrasts the NBA and NFL lockouts.

--Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick looks at how the NBA lockout could affect player routines.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr looks at possible odd jobs that NBA players could do during the lockout.

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Lakers introduce second-round draft picks

All three of the Lakers' second-round draft picks played in a scrimmage Tuesday at the team's practice facility against other NBA free agents, giving the threesome a chance to perform in front of Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and new coach Mike Brown.

After the scrimmage, guards Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock and forward Ater Majok were introduced to the media, all of them saying how happy they were to be with the Lakers.

Morris, a local product from Windward High in Los Angeles, was taken with the 41st pick by the Lakers out of Michigan.

"There is a great opportunity here for me,' said Morris, a 6-4 point guard. "I'm just ready to capitalize on it."

Goudelock was taken with the 46th pick out of the College of Charleston.

He's a 6-3 combo gaurd, meaning he has the skills to play point and shooting guard.

"I look forward to the opportunity," Goudelock said.

Majok was taken with the 58th pick.

Majok, listed at 6-10, is from Sudan and abruptly left the University of Connecticut last September. He averaged 2.3 points and three rebounds in 26 games with the Huskies before leaving after one season to play professionally in Turkey and Australia.

-- Broderick Turner

Photo: Darius Morris, left, Ater Major and Andrew Goudelock. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press

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