Sunday, November 23, 2014
Blog Page 103

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The past few days have been very stressful for Lakers power forward Pau Gasol. Earlier this week, he along with Lamar Odom were packaged in a deal that would bring Chris Paul to Los Angeles. It was a hard thing to fathom for Gasol, for he felt that his place with this Laker organization would not be threatened any time soon.

Then the unthinkable happened. NBA Commissioner David Stern nixed the 3-team deal that would have sent the Gasol to Houston. Stern’s act was one that angered many Laker fans for some were excited at the idea of having an elite point-guard next to Kobe Bryant. But for Gasol, the veto of the trade was a sigh of relief because he desperately wanted to stay with the Lakers. Even though the Lakers pulled out of negotiations with New Orleans, Gasol is still on the trading block as the Lakers are now targeting Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard. Gasol’s key to making it through all of this has simply been to stay patient.

You know I take it one day at a time right now. Obviously it hasn’t been extremely easy to be calm and quiet and not think about the different possibilities. But, I’m still here and I’m thankful for that.. I’m proud to be here, but again, lets see what happens over the next few days and see where we’re at.”

Gasol has been professional through out the whole process, understanding that despite the organizations intentions, it is still his job to wear a Laker uniform.

I understand that this is a business, and it’s becoming more of a business than a sport nowadays. There’s a part of the business side that’s out of our hands. So my loyalty to the Lakers is total. I’m thankful for everyday that I’ve been here since the trade occurred on February 1st 2008. ’ll continue to be thankful for being here, and I’ll continue to do my best to make this team better.”

Gasol understands that he fell short of the Lakers expectations from him in the playoffs last season. If his professionalism keeps him with this organization, he’ll have a chance at redeeming himself, and reproving his value to this franchise.

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Photo by Christian Petersen | Getty Images

The Laker organization signed Matt Barnes to bring his energy and intensity to a veteran championship ball club. Though Barnes had some bright spots last season, he fell short of expectations and was non-existent in the post season.

After a extended off-season to get fully healthy, Barnes plans to prove the doubters wrong and help the Lakers return to dominance.

It was the hardest thing in the world to come to the team I always wanted to play for and tear my knee and really not be able to do anything and then hearing the whole summer that I needed to be traded. All that stuff has been great motivation for me. So I am very excited to show that my knee is healthy after a very long and hard off season.”

Barnes loves the intensity with Coach Mike Brown, and believes that his coaching is going to have a significant impact on this team.

His attention to detail on the defensive end is something that I feel is going to benefit us this year, the intensity that we’ve had these first two days in practice have been amazing and kind of makes you feel like where was this at last year guys?

Despite the doubts of how good this Laker team is, Barnes is still confident in their ability to be successful.

I think with this team, with Kobe, he’s going to lead us on the offensive end. Our team will follow him on the offensive end and us together will be a pack of wolves on the defensive end. That’s the identity we are starting to get on the defensive end, which I think is great.”

This year is a redemption year for many of the Laker reserves. Matt Barnes is expected to be a key contributor, now that Lamar Odom is no longer with the team.

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Associated Press

Now with basketball back in action, Laker Nation has decided to continue to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise.

DECEMBER 13, 1972
LA LAKERS 104 – PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

CHAMBERLAIN BECOMES AN ACCUSED HIJACKER; PUTS UP 15-15-15 AGAINST FORMER CLUB IN SAME NIGHT

Flying across the country during the 1970s was a much different process than it is now. For one, there was much more relaxed security than today’s post-9/11 environment. However, that isn’t to say that security was nonexistent in the early 1970s, as Laker center Wilt Chamberlain found out during boarding on a Trans World America (TWA) flight to Philadelphia, where the Lakers were set to play the 76ers later that evening.

Having been delayed for 30 minutes due to mechanical trouble, tempers were short as the Laker players were still exhausted from a late game against the Chicago Bulls the previous evening. As TWA officials waved the Laker players onto the plane, Chamberlain and teammate Jerry West walked forward as Chamberlain commented: “The way I feel right now, if I had a gun in my bag I might shoot somebody.” Ten minutes later, a TWA official came aboard the plane, asking Chamberlain to disembark to speak with FBI agents who were waiting outside. The agents understanding was that Chamberlain intended to hijack the plane.

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Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

An already thin Lakers frontcourt is now even leaner.

During Monday’s afternoon practice, forward Derrick Caracter, went down with what is being reported as a torn meniscus (MCL). Caracter is scheduled to have surgery tomorrow and will be out for an unspecified amount of time.

Caracter was used sparingly last season, averaging just 2.0 points and 1.0 rebound per game in just over 5.2 minutes.

However after the trade of Lamar Odom and the suspension of Andrew Bynum for the first five games of the regular season, Caracter figured to get an opportunity to play consistent minutes for the Lakers in the frontcourt this season.

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The Lakers have announced the signing of forward Malcom Thomas:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed forward Malcolm Thomas, it was announced today.  Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released.

Thomas, a 6-9 forward out of San Diego State, helped lead the Aztecs to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance last season, averaging 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.02 blocks in 30.4 minutes.

An All-Mountain West Conference Second Team selection in each of his two seasons at San Diego State as well as an All-Defensive Team selection as a senior, Thomas concluded his career with the Aztecs as the school’s second leading shot blocker of all-time while ranking eighth all-time in rebound average and eighth in field goal percentage.

Physically, Thomas has intriguing tools that mesh well with what he brought to the table on the college level. He’s a bit undersized for a NBA power forward at just 6’8, but his 7’2 wingspan made him a menacing shot blocker at SDSU and allows him to play a bit taller than he’s listed. While his 220 pound frame could still use additional muscle, Thomas is a good all-around athlete, running the floor well and looking exceptionally quick off his feet when pursuing rebounds. (via DrafExpress.com)

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Photo by Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

The Lakers have announced the signing of four-year NBA vet Gerald Green:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard Gerald Green, it was announced today.  Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released.

Green, a four-year NBA veteran originally selected by the Boston Celtics in the first round (18th overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft, has appeared in 181 NBA games (41 starts) for the Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, posting career averages of 7.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in 16.0 minutes.

The 2007 NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Champion and former McDonald’s High School All-American out of Gulf Shores Academy in Houston, TX, started the 2011-12 season in China where he was averaging 26.5 points on .545 shooting from the field through four games.

Green is more known for his hops, and blowing a candle out on the rim in the dunk contest, then he is for his consistent play on the floor.

For the Lakers it seems like a low risk, high reward move that could lead into Green being the spark off the bench that can bring athleticism, and leaping ability. A void that the Lakers need to fill since Shannon Brown is now with the Phoenix Suns.

He has not played in the NBA since the 08-09 season with the Dallas Mavericks.

 

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Photo by Getty Images

UPDATE: Marc Spears from Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Josh McRoberts has signed a two-year deal with the Lakers. Reportedly the Lakers used their mini-mid level exception to sign the 4-year vet.

According to Mike Wells, who is a Indiana Pacers beat writer at the Indianapolis Star. Josh McRoberts is on the verge of signing with the Lakers:

Ex-Pacer Josh McRoberts is on the verge of signing an offer with the Lakers.

McRoberts started his career with the Portland Trail Blazers where he only played in eight games. He has spent the last three seasons as a member of the Indiana Pacers.

In 155 career games, McRoberts has averaged 15 minutes, 5.2 points, and 3.8 rebounds per game.

The 6-10, 240 pounder out of Duke University would fulfill a need at the backup power forward position for the Lakers.

 

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Courtesy @DallasMavs on Twitter

Lamar Odom joined the Dan Patrick show for his first public interview since being traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

Odom talked about his emotions when he found out the Lakers agreed to trade him to New Orleans. He also talked about how he will feel when he comes back to L.A. to play the Lakers on January 16th, and what he expects the crowd to do when his name is announced.

The full transcript is below. Or you can also listen to the entire interview via our partners over at Fox Sports Radio LA.

How’s Lamar Odom “Dallas Mavericks Forward” sound to you?

“It’s a good thing; it’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to defending the title.”

Did you demand a trade?

“Ehh I don’t know…I demanded to stay on the team, and if they couldn’t do that then it must have been time for me to go.”

On hearing about the New Orleans trade:

“That’s when I figured out that it was going to happen at any given time. They were going to trade me this year no matter what. They were trying to make the best business move for themselves, which didn’t have my best interest. I had to kind of take control of the situation and land in a place like Dallas. A city like Dallas, play for an owner like Mark Cuban. A team like the Mavericks was my first choice.”

Have you talked to Kobe since the trade?

“Not yet, I spoke to Luke [Walton] for maybe about two hours. It was emotional, and sometimes I think about situations and it’s hard to control my emotions. I was emotionally in debt to [the Lakers] and to those guys in that locker room. Winning and losing, and so many battles sometimes you have to put that to the side.”

Are you more angry or sad?

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NBA Photo Archive

Now with basketball back in action, Laker Nation has decided to continue to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise.

DECEMBER 12, 1971
ATLANTA HAWKS 95 – LA LAKERS 104

LAKERS OVERCOME ROUGH START TO BEAT HAWKS, SET NBA MARK WITH 21 STRAIGHT

Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Lakers had a target on their collective backs. Having barely escaped an overtime match with the Phoenix Suns that had earned them their 20th straight victory, the Lakers were beginning to play tight, especially with the opportunity to set an NBA record on their home floor for consecutive victories.

Despite being in last place in the Central Division, an aging Pete Maravich would lead the Atlanta Hawks to an impassioned performance, outrebounding Chamberlain and the Lakers 58-57 and staying close for most of the game. Leading 96-95 with 61 seconds left in regulation, the Lakers would begin to hit their stride: Gail Goodrich would connect with Wilt Chamberlain for a dunk, two stolen passes by Jerry West and a set of free throws would blow the game open for a 105-94 victory.

The Lakers would net their 21st straight victory, breaking the 20-game previous record set one year prior by the Milwaukee Bucks. The Purple and Gold would continue their streak for almost an entire month, when the former record-holder Milwaukee Bucks (and future Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) would defeat the Lakers on January 9th, 1972.

Quote of the Night: “West was sipping on a can of 7-Up as rows of champagne glasses sat untouched to his right. ‘I don’t need that stuff,’ he exclaimed.” – Dwight Chapin, LA Times reporter, on the Lakers locker room following their then-NBA record 21st straight win. – From the LA Times, Dec. 13, 1971

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Photo by Patrick McDermott | Getty Images

Kobe Bryant joined the Jim Rome Show on Monday morning. He was asked about the the trade of Lamar Odom, and how the team is dealing with all the drama of trade rumors.

Bryant had this to say when asked why he wanted another shot at winning a title with the same core:

Its tough man. As as a team we wanted to come back and avenge that loss [to the Mavs], and have that same group come back to do it. Shannon [Brown] is in Phoenix, and not only is Lamar [Odom] with another team he is with the Dallas [Mavericks].”

We’ll be better. We are one year removed from winning back-to-back championships. We have one year that we don’t win it, and all of sudden the roof is caving in.”

Rome also asked Bryant if he would of have been OK to the agreed deal that saw the Lakers trade Gasol and Odom for Chris Paul:

“That’s a tough one for me. I love Chris. He’s cold. He’s got that engine in him, he’s just got that motor in him. But that is a lot of length to be giving up.”

Odom ends his Lakers career with 519 games which ranks 18th in Lakers franchise history. Chris Paul has been rumored to go to the Los Angeles Clippers, but now it seems the league may nix that deal as well.

It is now clear that the Lakers roster will be different on Christmas Day. How much different? Only time will tell.

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Patrick McDermott | Getty Images

Last Thursday afternoon the city of Los Angeles was abuzz with news that one of its franchises had just acquired one of the games’ best players….and oh, by the way the Angels signed Albert Pujols too. Its been discussed, and bandied about and criticized all weekend long.

The trade that was, then wasn’t, then was again, then wasn’t again. The Lakers were so close to acquiring Chris Paul that apparently one source close to the situation said that Paul was just moments away from catching a flight to Los Angeles.

What a great early Christmas present for Laker fans right? You’d have arguably the best backcourt in NBA history. I mean when was the last time that the best point guard in the game and arguably the best shooting guard in the game, played together on the same basketball court in a non-exhibition matchup?

Well, before Laker fans could even envision a Laker fast break with Chris Paul leading the charge, the grins swooped in and stole that early Christmas present faster than you can say “Whoville.”

At the behest of numerous NBA owners (Dan Gilbert and Mark Cuban most notably), David Stern essentially vetoed an already agreed upon trade that would have brought Paul to Los Angeles. Citing, “basketball reasons” Stern chose not to sign off on the deal, making himself public enemy number one in Los Angeles, and surprisingly many other cities as well.

You have people in Boston, New York, Atlanta, Denver, Milwaukee, New Jersey etc. all in an uproar because the Lakers couldn’t acquire another star player? Whats the world coming to? The problem is that as many people as there are who hate the Lakers, there are just as many people who understand the system that is in place and realize (even if they don’t want to admit it), that not only the Lakers, but the Hornets and Rockets all got shafted.

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Ron Artest got a bad rap last season. Granted, some of that was well deserved – you aren’t going to miss a breakaway dunk getting blocked by the rim in the playoffs and not hear about it in Los Angeles.

This season, though, Artest has begun a new chapter in his career, one with a different name but with very familiar characters.

Becoming Metta World Peace during the offseason, Artest World Peace will be reunited with new Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown, who coached World Peace (then Artest) as an assistant for three years with the Indiana Pacers. World Peace, acknowledging his past history of anger and control issues, talked at Lakers media day about his chances to play under Mike Brown again:

I played for Mike when I was in Indiana so I get a chance kinda to redeem myself from those immature years I had over there.”

Keeping busy during the lockout with a comedy tour, an ill-fated appearance on Dancing With The Stars, film and television appearances, and most recently a live stage performance with the popular children’s program Yo Gabba Gabba, World Peace has fortunately found time throughout his busy schedule to keep in shape:

I feel pretty good…I worked out the whole summer and I took off three weeks before training camp you know so I feel pretty good.”

With Laker fans clamoring for World Peace’s departure, whether by trade or amnesty clause, World Peace hasn’t played his best as a Laker, recording career lows in nearly every significant statistical category and with two of last season’s lingering memories being his missed dunk along with a clothesline of now-Timberwolves point guard J.J. Barea.

Despite his past misgivings, with this shortened season shaking out to be one of the most fascinating in recent memory, all we ask Laker fans is to, for the moment, give World Peace a chance.

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Photo by Getty Images

To say that Lakers guard, Steve Blake, struggled last year would be an understatement. Blake came in with much fanfare after being known as a hard-nosed defensive player with a penchant for making big shots, especially from behind the arc.

However, what started as a potential match made in heaven turned into a season from hell for Blake, who had career lows in points per game, field goal percentage and 3 point field goal percentage. So how would Blake describe his performance last year?

There were some times when I played really well and some down points as well so id like to be more consistent this year and be a little more involved. Just play better overall.”

Unfortunately for Laker fans, it seemed like there were more down points than good ones. Blake was brought in last season to give the Lakers quality depth in the backcourt and there were even early rumblings that he would supplant Derek Fisher as the starter at some point last season. That obviously did not happen, as Fisher remained the starter and Blake seemingly saw his role decrease as the season went along. With a new coaching staff in place, Blake says that he is ready to play any role necessary to help the team win:

Whatever the case may be, im just going to play hard and whatever role they want to give me, whether its more minutes or not im just going to try to play better.”

Barring a trade, Blake will have a second opportunity to prove that he can be an integral part of the Lakers roster. Some experts attributed his struggles to “thinking too much” as he tried to learn the nuances of the triangle offense. Brown boasts a more traditional offensive system which should aid in Blake’s quest for redemption. Whether it is Blake or someone else, there’s no doubt that after losing Lamar Odom, the Lakers are going to have to have to find someone to provide quality production off of their bench.

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Courtesy @Lakers on Twitter

Born in Long Beach, CA, Jason Kapono has always had an eye for the Lakers. After all, when you’re growing up at the same time that Magic, Kareem and Showtime are winning titles, it’s hard not to. That’s why, when Kapono signed with the Lakers last week for a one year-$1.2 million deal, he was more than ecstatic that he’d finally found his way back to Los Angeles:

It feels great to be here. And like I said, it feels fake. I feel like I just bought this jersey at the store. I’ve always wanted to play here as a hometown kid growing up as a fan of Magic and Kareem and James Worthy. It’s a dream come true, but I’m excited for the chance to play and to put on the purple and gold.”

Kapono, 30, comes to the Lakers with the sixth highest career three-point field goal percentage in NBA history. Having played his college ball at UCLA, where he led the Bruins in scoring in each of his four years, Kapono became a three-point specialist in the NBA, winning back-to-back Three-Point Shootouts in 2007 and 2008. Kapono’s goal for the season? Shooting 50% not from the field, but behind the arc:

Yeah, its a goal of mine always. I’m a shooter. I think I’m one of the best so I aspire to be the best and to shoot the best. If I can shoot 50/50, I’ll take it.”

So playing with a roster loaded with forwards (with Walton, World Peace, Barnes, and Caracter), what exactly does Kapono plan to bring to a team that already has scorers at nearly every position?

I’m a shooter through and through so that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’ve had a job here coming up on nine years [in the league]. It’s because I can make shots, so as long as I can make shots and I can spread the floor for these guys to play I think it will help us out.”

For Kapono, coming to the Lakers is more than just a homecoming; it’s a déjà vu of sorts. With former UCLA teammate Matt Barnes and Kapono splitting time, Kapono will also be coached by Lakers assistant Quin Snyder, who with Missouri coached against Kapono and Barnes’ Bruins in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Laker fans who watched Peja Stojakovich tear up the Lakers with outside shooting last spring will surely welcome the addition of a three-point threat that can provide the Lakers with much-needed points from behind the arc.

 

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With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.