Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

Category: Lakers News

Lakers to face Clippers twice in preseason

Blake Griffin

This won't exactly capture the hearts of Laker fans like an NBA playoff game would. But the Lakers' two preseason games against the Clippers present some riveting story lines.

The Lakers remain L.A.'s favorite sports team because of their storied history and because they continue to showcase marquee athletes such as Kobe Bryant. The Clippers have mostly been a punchline, until Blake Griffin's monstrous dunks caught everyone's attention. The Lakers will host the Clippers at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 19 before switching roles two days later at the same time. Because both games are played at Staples Center and the teams have their own locker rooms at the arena, the only differences will be which team's logo is featured on the court and which is wearing the home uniforms.

Themes throughout the games won't change. We'll all wonder how many highlight-reel dunks Griffin throws down, and whether Metta World Peace gets his wish to get posterized by the Clippers star. We'll wonder if Lamar Odom will remain agitated with Griffin's motor. We'll wonder if any of Bryant's explosive drives to the basket means his surgically repaired right knee feels healthier. We'll wonder how Andrew Bynum and Chris Kaman will muscle up inside. 

Finally, we'll have some interesting basketball to watch, even if the outcome doesn't matter.

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Clippers dunk machine Blake Griffin works against the Lakers' Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) in a game last December. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

No Lakers players expected at practice facility Thursday

Kobe Bryant

The Lakers officially open their doors of their practice facility Thursday to players who want to work out voluntarily.

But the team isn't expecting many, if any, to show up for varying reasons, including travel arrangements and individual workouts already being planned. They also don't plan to have any media availability, anyway. So hold tight, Laker fans. We won't have all the pressing questions answered, such as how Kobe Bryant's knee looks, who appears in shape and whether teammates are actually calling Metta World Peace by his changed name.

We only have one answer, and it's that we won't be seeing any Lakers on the basketball court today. Hopefully soon.

RELATED:

NBA players can use team facilities beginning Thursday

Would a shortened season benefit the Lakers?

Lakers need intense practices next season

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant and teammates listen to the national anthem before the start of a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center in April. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Lakers reach out to free-agent Shannon Brown

ShbrownThe Lakers made contact Wednesday with the representative for free-agent guard Shannon Brown on the first day NBA teams could talk to agents.

Brown has been the main backup to Kobe Bryant in recent seasons. Brown opted out of a contract that would have paid him $2.37 million this season; he made $2.15 million last season with the Lakers.

"We talked about Shannon but it's a little early to see where it goes," agent Mark Bartelstein said Wednesday.

Brown, who turned 26 on Tuesday, averaged 8.7 points and 19.1 minutes last season, his third with the Lakers.

The Lakers have only one free-agent tool, the "mini mid-level" for three years and $9.4 million, but they wouldn't have to use it to re-sign Brown.

Teams are allowed to talk to players' agents but can't reach verbal or written agreements until Dec. 9, when training camps are scheduled to open. The Lakers begin the season Dec. 25.

The NBA collective-bargaining agreement is expected to be ratified next week by a majority vote of 450-plus players and 30 owners.

RELATED:

Kupchak confident as Lakers get back to work.

Lakers may be at disadvantage bidding for amnesty players.

NBA free agency frenzy will be caused more by time than talent. 

 

--Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Shannon Brown in a Lakers game in November, 2010. Los Angeles Times / Luis Sinco.

Vegas oddmakers keep Miami Heat as 2012 NBA title favorite

Las Vegas

That sudden wave of relief Laker fans feel over a salvaged NBA season will quickly evaporate over a sobering reality.

The Purple and Gold has issues, and Las Vegas oddmakers have noticed, which is why they have given the Miami Heat better odds at winning the 2012 NBA championship. MGM Mirage's race and sports director Jay Rood considers Miami a 2-to-1 favorite to win the title, followed by the Lakers (9-to-2) and the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder (5-to-1). Meanwhile, Jay Kornegay, director of the Las Vegas Hilton Race and Sports Book, has tabbed the Heat as 2-to-1 favorites, unless the Chicago Bulls (6-to-1) get past them. That puts the Lakers (7-to-1) in a third-place tie with the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The reasons appear fairly simple.

"They're aging and have miles on them," Kornegay said. "They don't have a true point guard. And the coaching is a question mark."

"The Lakers have potential to be this year's Philadelphia Eagles more than anybody right now," Rood said. "Two of their guys (Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher) are getting long in the tooth. Kobe has been injured more often than not. With a shorter season, you don't know if it will help or hurt them. If a significant player gets injured, it'll be more difficult to overcome in a shorter season. They also don't have the luxury of taking six weeks off and get back in the thick of things."

Continue reading »

Matt Barnes to have Del Campo High jersey retired

32Matt Barnes

The NBA lockout is seen by many as an example of greed among professional sports franchises and athletes. So perhaps Matt Barnes' jersey retirement ceremony Wednesday at Del Campo High School in Sacramento will return the Lakers forward to a simpler time.  

Barnes had a storied career where he wore the No. 32 in basketball and No. 21 in football in high school, and he contemplated a professional career on the gridiron before accepting a scholarship to play for UCLA's basketball team. He compiled All-American, all-state, all-CIF, all-city and all-league honors during both his prep basketball and football days.

On Wednesday, the jersey retirement, which is scheduled to take place between the women's and men's varsity alumni games, will bring that full circle. 

The numbers speak for themselves. Consider his stat line in his junior and senior years on the hardwod (1997-99) in points, (26.5, 30), rebounds (12.5, 10), blocks (5.6, six), assists (5.5, three) and steals (three, five). His numbers on the gridiron were equally impressive during those seasons, in receptions (42, 58), yards (958, 1,112) and touchdowns (17, a nation-leading 28).

Barnes' football experience remains apparent in numerous ways. He often notes that he possesses a football player's mentality on the court, with his aggressiveness, quick instincts and physical play.

After experiencing frustrations as an NBA journeyman at the beginning of his now-eight-year career, Barnes contemplated football and in 2006 received seven or eight invitations to try out for NFL teams. He remains in touch with his older brother, Jason, who plays in the Canadian Football League. He also often opines on NFL-related news via Twitter. 

And for at least a brief moment on Wednesday, Barnes will be reminded of how he managed to excel in both sports. 

RELATED:

Matt Barnes working out with mixed success

Matt Barnes still cherishes role with 2007 Golden State team

Matt Barnes would consider playing overseas if NBA cancels season

*We will have a live chat at 2 p.m. today. Bring your questions!

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Lakers forward Matt Barnes. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Ex-Laker Cedric Ceballos reportedly suffers 'small heart attacks'

Cedric_ceballosFormer Lakers forward Cedric Ceballos is currently receiving treatment at a Phoenix hospital after suffering Sunday "a series of small heart attacks," according to the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro.

"I feel blessed & very fortunate to be here today & to have made the decision to go to the hospital & get my symptoms checked," Ceballos wrote in a statement that Coro published via Twitter

Ceballos, 42, who is a current owner and player with the ABA's Arizona Scorprions, provided a critical piece for the Lakers' rebuilding process from 1994-97. He guided the Lakers to 48 wins during the 1994-95 season, a 15-game increase from the previous season, by averaging a career-high 21.7 points per game. 

But his three-year career ended with the Lakers trading him with Rumeal Robinson to the Phoenix Suns for Robert Horry and Joe Kleine in January 1997. That came after a tumultuous period in which Ceballos battled lingering knee problems and experienced reduced playing time because of Magic Johnson's brief comeback. Ceballos also alienated the Lakers after missing two games, two practices and a morning shoot-around in 1996, which cost him nearly $55,000 in salary.

RELATED:

All Thing Lakers: Cedric Ceballos

Cedric Ceballos explains why he rented a houseboat during Lakers' season

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

Walt Hazzard had various roles with Lakers

Wes_matthewsHe became the Lakers' first pick of the 1964 NBA draft. Years later, he became the team's advance scout. And soon after, he remained as a special consultant.

Most of Walt Hazzard's life, which ended Friday  at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center because complications following heart surgery, was defined by his stellar UCLA career. That included helping the late John Wooden to his first NCAA championship and becoming the fifth coach to follow him. But Hazzard also had various stints with the Lakers, and left a lasting impression with the organization.

"Walt was a man of extremely high character, who served the Lakers for many years as a player, a scout and a consultant," Lakers Owner Jerry Buss said in a statement. "Our sympathy, thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time, and we feel fortunate that he was part of the Lakers family for so many years."

Hazzard spent his first three NBA seasons playing with the Lakers, though his best years were spent with the Seattle Supersonics, whom acquired him in the 1967 expansion draft. His connection to the Lakers still remained, as Hazzard joined the team's front office and became its primary West Coast advance NBA scout. Although he suffered a stroke in 1996, Hazzard remained on staff as a special consultant, focusing primarily on community relations. In turn, Hazzard's son, Rasheed, became an advance scout and a special assistant under Phil Jackson.

"First and foremost, our condolences go out to the Hazzard family," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "Not only was Walt an outstanding player, but his knowledge of the game was extremely valuable to our front office as well over the past 17 years. In the years since his stroke, he has been an inspiration to many of us with his perseverance and his passion for the game."

--Mark Medina

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

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times.

Vlade Divac nominated for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Vlade_divacOver the years, Vlade Divac has been many things to Laker fans.

One of the best European centers to play the game. A flopper. A fan favorite. An arch-enemy.

But there's one thing that will remain indisputable -- Divac's well-deserved nomination to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's class of 2012. Finalists won't be announced until All-Star weekend in February (if there ever is one), but Divac's nomination alone reflects the global impact he's had as an  elite center and as an ambassador through various goodwill efforts. 

His contributions affected the Lakers in various ways. 

Divac, who was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2010, spent eight seasons with the Lakers, where he quickly became a fan favorite for both his performances and frequent commercial, sitcom and late-night show appearances. He averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, playing a key role in helping the team reach the 1991 NBA Finals. He posted some of his best numbers during the 1994-95 season, averaging 16 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game.

He'll also be remembered for playing a large role in the Lakers securing both Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. As the team closed in on signing O'Neal as a free agent in July 1996, the Lakers traded Divac to Charlotte for Bryant, who had been drafted by the Hornets a month earlier. That resulted in the Kobe-Shaq duo combining for three championships before the team dissolved partly because of their conflict. 

And with Divac signing with Sacramento in 1999, Laker fans also view him as a rival of sorts. During the Lakers-Kings playoff appearances, Shaq and Laker fans alike jeered Divac for flopping. They took offense when Divac contended during the 2001-02 season the Kings couldn't lose a series to the Lakers if they had home-court advantage. Robert Horry rolled his eyes when Divac suggested his last-second game-winner in Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals simply was a "lucky shot."

With Divac becoming one of six players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots in his career, his legacy is far from lucky. In a few months, it's likely it'll be considered Hall of Fame worthy. 

RELATED:

'Once Brothers' '30 for 30' documentary focuses on Vlade Divac's relationship with Drazen Petrovic

Lakers' last meeting at Arco Arena rekindles memories of contention with the Kings

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Former Lakers center Vlade Divac is one of six players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots in his career. Credit: Los Angeles Times

NBA lockout: Everyone's talking about the talks

Billy Hunter--The Times' Mike Bresnahan notes that the NBA players union will meet Thursday in New York "to either provide a few details on upcoming negotiation strategy or to bridge a chasm of differences, depending on what you believe."

--Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick explores the relationship between Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter. 

--NBA.com's Steve Aschburner focuses on the role the courts might play in the NBA lockout. 

 --NBA.com's Fran Blinebury goes through the lockout alphabet. 

--ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussard reports that Fisher, during a Tuesday night conference call with the union's executive committee, denied secretly meeting with NBA Commissioner David Stern.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding praises Lamar Odom for becoming more focused and responsible after marrying Khloe Kardashian.

--Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer criticizes Jerry Stackhouse for suggesting that more agents need to be involved in the lockout negotiations. 

--ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi talks to Jerry West, who says he wouldn't have been able to ensure that Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant would stay together on the Lakers.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Stephen A. Smith argues that it's a good thing that Fisher is considering accepting a 50-50 split in basketball-related income. 

--Silver Screen and Roll's Ben R. looks at some of the players the Lakers could pursue because of the amnesty clause. 

Tweet of the Day: "Once upon a time before 24/7 coverage & social media, NBA locked out its players. They came to a deal in Jan., played 50 games & it was fine" -- FisolaNYDN (New York Daily News' Frank Isola)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "What on earth is with this notion that the Lakers have the wherewithal to pursue Paul or Williams in free agency? How is that remotely possible? The Lakers aren't by any stretch of the imagination going to be major players in the free agent market for a long, long time with lots of money tied down in Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum and they'll almost certainly be capped out and paying the luxury tax for at least the next three or four years." -- Benjamin Rosales

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Assn. Credit: David Karp / Associated Press

Javaris Crittenton to wear ankle bracelet before murder trial

Javaris Crittenton

Nearly a month after his arrest for his alleged involvement in a fatal drive-by shooting in Atlanta, ex-Laker Javaris Crittenton was released from jail on a $230,000 bond, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

Still, a Fulton County judge found probable cause to charge Crittenton with murder and is requiring Crittenton to wear an ankle bracelet so that he can't attempt to skip out on his pending trial beginning Oct. 25.

"I guess the judge made the decision that he’s not a danger to the community, which is odd, given the charges,” Gwinett County Dist. Atty.  Danny Porter told the AJC's Marcus K. Garner. “It's not unheard of, but it's rare." 

Authorities allege that Crittenton fatally shot Julian Jones on Aug. 19 in the woman's driveway in Atlanta after targeting a man in her group he believed stole his jewelry.  He has been charged  with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and gun possession. During the bond hearing on Tuesday, Crittenton’s attorney, Brian Steel,  reportedly called upon various supporters, including character witnesses and a petition signed by more than 1,000 people asking for Crittenton's release. “Those 1,000 people couldn’t save that innocent woman,” Assistant Dist. Atty. Jack Barrs reportedly said.

Previously, Crittenton had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation on a misdemeanor gun possession charge stemming from his confrontation with teammate Gilbert Arenas in the Washington Wizards' locker room in 2009. Both players were fined and suspended by the NBA for the rest of the season. 

Crittenton played a limited role with the Lakers after they selected him with the 19th pick in the 2007 NBA draft, appearing in 22 games and averaging 3.3 points. He was part of the seven-player trade with the Memphis Grizzlies that sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers.

RELATED:

Ex-Laker Javaris Crittenton arrested in Orange County

Attorney: Ex-Laker Javaris Crittenton to surrender to police

Former Laker Javaris Crittenton suspected of murder

--Mark Medina

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

Photo: Former Laker Javaris Crittenton. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Connect

Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

All Things Lakers »

Your database for all things purple and gold.

Find a Laker

Search a name

Select a season

Choose one of our lists



Categories


Archives
 

About the Bloggers


Bleacher Report | Lakers

Reader contributions from Times partner Bleacher Report

More Lakers on Bleacher Report »



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists:


In Case You Missed It...