Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Blog Page 33

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Earlier this summer, once Laker Nation saw Jordan Farmer sign with the team, fans wanted the team to “put the championship band back together” and add free agent F Lamar Odom with Kobe and Pau. Although there were some early discussions in July, there was no progress and the Lakers seemed to move on after signing rookie Elias Harris from Gonzaga.

The Clippers who also had interest in Odom decided to sign former Laker Antawn Jamison instead. With all the latest news on Odom’s possible reported drug issue, it is highly unlikely that the Lakers, or  any team has any interest left in signing the former two time NBA champion until this issue is clear.

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The date is August 23, 1978 a legend was born, Kobe Bean Bryant turns the age of 35 today. NBA fans watching his play images-7lately might be shocked by his age because it seems like the Mamba has found the fountain of youth, getting better and better each and every year. Playing like a 25 year old, Bryant had one of his greatest seasons last year, statistically shooting nearly 46 % from the floor and averaging 6 assists with 27 points per game.

Although the 35 year old Bryant suffered a set back with his Achilles tear, he’ll be ready to go for next season. As Kobe likes to call himself “Vino” because like wine he gets better with time. As an appreciation for all the great moments Kobe has given us, we’d love to go back in time and revisit some of the more memorable moments of his career.

81 Point Game: Down 18 points in the 3rd quarter vs the Raptors, Kobe ferociously brought back the Lakers scoring 81 points, which is the second most in an NBA game to only Wilt Chamberlain. Of those 81 points, 55 came in the second half alone.

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2007-2008 MVP: With an MVP award long over due Kobe finally gets his first in the

Unknown-22007-2008 season. After posting back to back 30 plus point scoring seasons and not being mentioned, it was about time he received it. Falling short first to Tim Duncan in 2003 due to the teams record, then to Steve Nash in a year were he averaged 35 points a game and carried the whole team on his back. Then next season losing it to Dirk Nowitzki after averaging 32 points and taking the Lakers to the playoffs to fall short again to the Phoenix Suns.

 

 

5 Championships: As much as he wants his 6th ring and as much as we want to see him grab his 6th ring, 5 is a lot and it’s a great achievement. After losing to the Celtics in the finals during the 2007-2008 season, The Lakers bounced back and beat the Magic the following year, then came back home in an epic 7 games series Finals matchup to beat the Celtics in Los Angeles.

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Who would have figured after 17 NBA season you would still be playing and overachieving. From amazing shots to monstrous dunks, to last second buzzer beaters, Kobe has made each and everyone of the 17 NBA seasons memorable and exciting for Laker Nation. From NBA fans, to Laker fans, to every writer for the Laker Nation, we would like to wish one of the greatest Lakers to ever do it, a Happy 35th Birthday Mr. Kobe Bean Bryant. We cant wait to see you overcome your injury and come back to chase that 6th NBA championship. Laker Nation – what’s your favorite Kobe Bryant moment?

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Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

With key departures in starters Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace, the Lakers starting line up is a mystery. We know 3 positions will be locked, the point guard in Steve Nash, Shooting guard Kobe Bryant and either Center/Power Forward Pau Gasol. The two positions up for grabs will be the small forward and power forward positions. In Coach Mike D’Antoni system, you sometimes just don’t know what to expect. Will D’Antoni run and gun or will we see a slower pace offense like towards the end of the year when Kobe got hurt. Until then, we can play around with different scenarios for starting line ups and take a couple shots at who we think might start. Lets take a look at the two highlighted positions on the Lakers roster, the power forward and small forward.

Power Forward:

Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman will be the lead candidates for the starting power forward/center job. We know what Jordan brings, toughness, great rebounding and defense. This summer Hill asked Coach D’Antoni how he can improve his game and has reportedly been working on his 15-18 foot jump shot. Kaman on the other hand is veteran thats been in the league for a while. Chris too can pick and pop and play down low. I personally would love to see Jordan start and Kaman off the bench because that would give us a solid center off the bench. Pau Gasol is an extremely gifted player and many fans forgot how talented he is in the post with both hands. Critiques will say he’s soft and can never bang down low, thats a false statement. Gasol wont give us breathe taking dunks but he’ll get the job done. If Pau Gasol can go back to his 09-10 season, in which he was dropping close to 19 points and grabbing 11 rebound, he will be feared again.

Small Forward:

The small forward position for the Lakers is very tricky. We’ve had many good players in the past like Trevor Ariza, Metta World Peace, Rick Fox and “Big Game” James Worthy. If the Lakers went up against Carmelo, Lebron, Kevin Durant we knew we had that stopper on defense, that would be able to somewhat slow them down and take the load off Kobe and company defensively. This position should have more of a scoring punch with Wesley Johnson and Nick Young, but there are definite questions on the defensive end. Wesley is long and can shoot the 3 ball, and should fit well in D’Antoni’s system. Nick Young can score in bunches from almost anywhere on the floor and he loves attacking the rim. I personally think who ever stands out defensively from the two will be grab the most playing time.

Projected Starting Line up: 

Point Guard: Steve Nash will control the rock at the point guard, he’s getting old but his shooting off Kobe double teams and intelligence at the position is rare and what the Lakers need. Nash needs to be more aggressive this upcoming season, more scoring than facilitating.

Credit: SI.com
Credit: SI.com

Shooting Guard: If Kobe is a no go season opener, Jodie Meeks will get the start untill the  Mamba comes back.(Get Ready)

Credit: AP/Danny Moloshok
Credit: AP/Danny Moloshok

Small Forward:NBA: Phoenix Suns-Media Day The small forward position will go to Wesley Johnson, he’s a sniper from outside and plays good perimeter defense. I won’t be suprised if Nick Young gets a couple starts this year or even ends up starting. Nick Youngs offensive explosions would be much appreciated off the bench either subbing in for Kobe or Wesley.

 

 

 

Power Forward: The Power Forward position is a toss up, I want to see Jordan hill start  so Chris

Credit: SI.com
Credit: SI.com

Kaman can give us a solid punch off the bench but wouldn’t be surprised to see it work out the other way. Kaman might just start to help Gasol spread the floor and give him space inside to dominate.

Center: Pau Gasol period. This is his year to dominate, the paint belongs to him. I am extremly eager to watch Gasol this year who I think will have one of his more dominant seasons, and needs to. If Kobe is a no go season opener, Gasol you are the best player on this roster and need to carry this team. I expect more touches for Pau and more Pick and roll situations with Nash and Kobe. With the departure of Dwight, we have to feed the spaniard down low. Laker fans get ready for a great 2013-2014 Season.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

 

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Source: Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

After yesterday’s news of a white short-sleeve jersey being introduced next season, ESPN LA’s Dave McMenamin said today that the Lakers would also be adding a black alternate jersey to next season’s uniform rotation:

There have been plenty of mock-ups over the years showing off a black alternate with the purple and gold color scheme, and they look very sharp.  Here is a description of what it’s rumored to look like:

“The Lakers will also be adding a black jersey to their uniform rotation next season, according to a league source. The alternative uniform will be part of the league’s city pride series, joining the Detroit Pistons’ upcoming “Motor City” uniforms and the Portland Trail Blazers’ “Rip City” set, but unlike the others, it will still say “Lakers” across the chest. The lettering and numerals will appear in purple with gold outlines and the rest of the jersey material will be primarily black, with some gold accents, the source said. It will not have sleeves, the source added.”

Unlike the short-sleeve jersey, I absolutely LOVE the idea of a black Lakers uniform.   When the idea of a black alternate has been brought up, the feedback from fans has been mostly positive.  It could be very similar to this mock up.

A few fans suggested last season the Lakers should honor the late Dr. Jerry Buss with a black uniform, similar to the team honoring Chick Hearn with the Sunday whites.    With the Lakers set to honor Dr. Jerry Buss next season on January 28, the day after his birthday, I’m curious to see if the uniforms will be part of that or if they have bigger plans such as hanging a jersey/banner in the rafters or naming the court after him.

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According to ESPN LA’s Dave McMenamin, the Lakers will be one of the few teams to experiment with short-sleeve jerseys next season:

Personally, I am not a fan of the short-sleeves.  I was okay with the NBA introducing them last season when the Golden State Warriors wore them, but I truly thought that teams like the Lakers would not be adding them to their selection of jerseys.

I think the NBA is forcing the issue with these uniforms and ultimately it may backfire from a marketing stand point.   I do not know many adult fans that will want to purchase the short-sleeve jerseys.  The demographic of the jerseys may be directed more at teenagers and that’s where it may be popular, but I can’t see many older fans spending money on the gear that fits like a compression shirt.

The Lakers did have their summer team wear short-sleeve jerseys a few weeks ago.  Should be noted that Chris Douglas-Roberts cut the sleeves in one of the games because it felt tight around his shoulders and made a point to say that he “hated” the jerseys.

Let’s just hope we don’t try the short shorts experiment with these jerseys…. Yikes.

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PhotoCredit:Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant is still recovering from his torn Achilles tendon but he is making excellent progress.  He has publicly said that he has “shattered” the recovering time table for an injury of this calibur and the latest video he put on his Instagram account confirms this even more.  The Alter-G Treadmill isn’t an ordinary treadmill, it alters the gravity in the box he stands in so all of his weight isn’t on his healing Achilles.  This is a huge step for Kobe because he’s already running on his heel and even though it’s not all of his weight, it’s one step closer to that.  The video can be seen below.

 

It’s great to see Bryant already at this point in his recovery process and it means he’s that much closer to playing basketball again.

 

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Image: Nokia Theatre
Image: Nokia Theatre
Image: Nokia Theatre

August 15th, 2013 The Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation partnered with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to host Kobe Up Close.

All proceeds from the event went towards eliminating homelessness in Los Angeles.

The event was a unique opportunity for Lakers fans to access the unfiltered mind of their beloved superstar, Kobe Bryant.

In attendance at the event were current Lakers Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly and Wesley Johnson, new assistant coach Mark Madsen, former Lakers coach Bill Sharman, Lakers executives Jeanie Buss and Jim Buss, former NFL player Terrell Owens, among others.

The event began with CBS sportscaster Jim Hill speaking on Bryant.

Hill on his first impression of Bryant back when he was drafted by the Lakers:

“I remember Jerry West talking about Kobe Bryant and saying he was going to be very, very special. He was going to be one of the true great ones. And Jerry doesn’t say that about a lot of people, especially young people.”

“The first time I met Kobe, I knew then he was going to be not only a great one, but a very special one.”

On just how special Bryant really is:

“We will never see the likes of Kobe Bryant again, he is truly a gifted basketball player.”

“He doesn’t look at basketball as a job. For him it’s a passion. He’s spoiled us with his excellence.”

“What drives Kobe the most is when people doubt him. You will see a devoted Kobe this season like you’ve never seen before.”

Former Laker Robert Horry also spoke on Bryant before the main event started.

Horry on Bryant’s mental edge:

“Kobe’s mindset is amazing. When you see someone in the locker room as focused as he was, it really lifts everyone else up.”

On his relentless work ethic:

“When you walk into practice and you see him in there working hard. He’s in there sweating before you get there and after you leave.”

After Horry’s short segment, the main event with Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel began.

Bryant on the number of minutes he played last season:

“I don’t think it was too many. The Achilles injury was just a freak injury.”

On whether he’ll play less minutes next season:

“That’s the goal … I could sit back until June, I just want that jewelry.”

On when he will play again:

“I don’t know if I’ll be ready opening night, but I am really ahead of schedule.”

On whether it was a personal decision to stop tweeting during games last season or a franchise decision:

“That was my decision. The Lakers know I’m a little too stubborn to ever be told anything.”

On his popularity in China:

“I really don’t know. I started going out there in 1998 and have gone every summer since.”

Kobe was a Lakers fan even before he came to the United States:

“While I was living in Italy, my grandpa used to send me tapes of Lakers games and I absolutely fell in love with them.”

On his decision to skip college and go straight to the NBA out of high school:

“I liked Duke and I absolutely love Coach K. If I had had to make a decision though, I would have gone to North Carolina. Mainly because of the competition and being able to play against Vince Carter every day to improve.”

“The first college letter I ever received was from West Point … I was just happy to get a letter.”

Would he tell others to skip college?

“I would just tell others to follow their dreams.”

On his pre-draft workout with the Clippers:

“The Clippers told me they wouldn’t draft me because they wanted to ‘turn things around.’ They said they wouldn’t be taken seriously if they drafted a 17-year-old kid out of high school.”

On the late Dr. Jerry Buss:

“He knew exactly what his vision was. He was very patient, understanding. He allowed me room to grow as a person.”

On his first time meeting Shaquille O’Neal:

“It was the coolest thing in the world that he had a huge cell phone.”

Which title was Bryant’s favorite during his time with Shaq?

“Number 2. We should have gone undefeated. It still bothers us to this day that we let that one game drop.”

What is Bryant’s relationship with Michael Jordan like?

“It’s like a big brother relationship. He gives me phenomenal advice on how to better elevate my teammates.”

On who are the toughest players he’s played against:

“Allen Iverson was a load to handle. Stephon Marbury dropped 50 on me once. Gilbert Arenas. Today, probably Carmelo Anthony because he’s so strong. Kevin Durant too. The guy who gave me the most trouble though was Tracy McGrady.”

When asked if he was certain he’d be a Laker for life, Bryant responded: “Yeah.”

Bryant on Dwight Howard and his exodus from Los Angeles:

“Dwight is a great kid. We have different perspectives on what it takes to win and what it takes to be successful.”

On trying to convince Howard to stay:

“It’s all about the organization and trying to set them up the best I can for when I retire.”

On his once volatile relationship with Shaq:

“It never bothered me when other people said, ‘You only won because of Shaq.’ It bothered me when Shaq said it.”

On his evolution as both a player and a person:

“I was so consumed with my craft in the beginning of my career. … I go into games now looking at what my guys are going through and who’s struggling, and how I can help. I look at my teammates now as partners.”

When asked if he could have one former teammate return, who would it be:

“I’d take Derek Fisher back … that’s my guy.”

On what he’s most proud of:

“Being a 17-year-old kid and challenging the system at the time.”

Is Bryant chasing Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s all-time scoring mark?

“I’m so obsessed with winning that those type of things don’t really matter to me.”

Which is Bryant’s favorite nickname right now?

“I like Vino right now. Black Mamba is my alter-ego.”

On the ESPN experts projecting the Lakers to finish 12th in the West this season:

“I use it as motivation, as fuel. We were the favorites last year and they were wrong about that.”

On who is the ‘next Kobe Bryant’:

“There’s several. Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Even Nick Young. They all have that gene.”

The event ended with Terrell Owens asking Bryant a few questions. The two share a common neuro-muscular scientist consultant in Barrence Baytos. Both Bryant and Owens raved about Baytos and Bryant called him a “genius” who has helped prolong his career.

The Kobe Up Close event was a great opportunity to delve into the mind of Kobe Bryant.

This revealing ‘other side’ to the ever-intense Black Mamba was certainly riveting and quite interesting.

Bryant will continue what he called an “aggressive” rehabilitation process as he prepares to return from his Achilles tendon tear.

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Yesterday, ESPN posted their 2013 Summer Forecast for the Western Conference, where they ranked the Lakers at #12.

Today, Kobe made it known that he noticed:

No one should be shocked at the Black Mamba taking exception of the lowered expectations for him and the Lakers.

This team will undoubtedly be an underdog for this upcoming season, but as we saw last year, success isn’t achieved by what’s published on the internet.   While fans may not like where ESPN ranked the team, it’s important to remember that rankings have zero impact on how this team will perform on the court.

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According to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida, the Lakers have shown interest in free agent forward Anthony Tolliver:

An interesting development because as of this morning, Tolliver was reportedly down to three teams: Bulls, Jazz, and Bobcats.  Tomasson says that Tolliver, 28, is looking for a situation where he can play power forward opposed to the small forward spot he played last year with the Atlanta Hawks.

Last season, Tolliver, averaged 4.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.  He had his best season with the Golden State Warriors in 2009-10, averaging 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds while playing 32.3 minutes a game.

It should be noted that the 6’8 forward played for new Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis in 2010-11, averaging 6.7 points on 40% shooting from three.

 

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Recently, I stumbled across an ESPN article discussing shooting guards in the NBA.  After reading, the conclusion forced upon me was James Harden is the best shooting guard in the NBA today and Kobe Bryant is the most overrated shooting guard in the NBA today.

Now given those comments were from bloggers from other teams, I still feel this is something which needs to be discussed because quite frankly, I believe those statements are unjustified and wrong.

Below is the response to who is the best shooting guard in the NBA, courtesy of Graydon Gordian from the Spurs blog, 48 Minutes of Hell:

James Harden.  The position is in a period of transition. As the older generation of shooting guards — Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Manu Ginobili — has begun to wear down, Harden has emerged as the most dynamic 2 in the game. His vision, playmaking and efficient shooting have propelled him to the top of his position.

Is the position in a period of transition? Of course.  It always is.  As older superstars begin to enter the final years of their career, there are younger players who are making names for themselves in the league. The problem I have with this line of thinking is it names Harden the best shooting guard in the league by default based on age and Kobe’s injury.

Which is wrong.

For me, a player is as good as his most recent season.  That’s what we know to be true because we are physically able to see how they perform.  As with the NBA champion, until that team is knocked off the following year, they are still the defending champion.  The same goes for the debate as to who is better at each position.

Kobe has been the premier player at the shooting guard position for years now.  At 34 years old, Kobe ranked first in scoring, assists, rebounds, and double doubles amongst all shooting guards in the league.  He also ranked third in field goal percentage, behind Dwayne Wade and Jared Dudley.

With that bit of information I just gave, my question is how has Harden emerged as the most dynamic two-guard in the game when Kobe was tops in the league in almost all major categories pertaining to shooting guards?  I’m not going to bash Harden because I feel he is the second best shooting guard in the league and will eventually be the premier player at the position.   Is Harden a better shooter? Yes.  He has a shooting stroke from outside which should keep him above 35% from three for his career.  Is Harden more athletic? As we would expect with a 23 year old, yes.  When it comes to actual basketball, there has yet to be an actual argument to why Harden is superior to Kobe, just that he is younger and Kobe’s injury.

Now in Gordian’s defense, when talking about efficiency, he is talking about efficient shooting, not efficient scoring, which are two different things.  As a shooter, Harden takes the nod over Kobe.  As a scorer, Kobe is king.  While many expect Kobe to not be as efficient as Harden, this is ultimately false.  According to Vorped.com, which keeps shot charts for players over an entire season, Kobe was more efficient than Harden in every spot on the floor except for shots inside the arc along the left baseline and beyond the arc. (Click below for shot charts of each player & click “Shot Zones” to see what I mean.”

Shot Zones for James Harden 

Shot Zones for Kobe Bryant

What about playmaking and vision?  This has always been one of Kobe’s under appreciated aspects of his game. We’ve heard it before, “Kobe doesn’t pass” and “Kobe makes the offense stagnant”.   For all the grief he receives, Kobe’s playmaking ability is very good.   Over his career, he’s averaged 5 APG, which is not bad for a “ball hog.” The gap between Kobe and Harden in this category is not much.  Both averaged 6 APG this past season and both led shooting guards in turnovers per game at close to four.  Nothing in that stat puts Harden over Kobe.

As it currently stands, based on information we have, in addition to what we saw last season, Kobe is still the best shooting guard in the league.  I do understand Kobe is coming off a major injury and there is a very good chance he will suffer a slight decline because of the injury and his age, but it still doesn’t change the fact Kobe continued to prove his worth as the best two guard in the league last season.

To crown James Harden by default is okay for those who simply want to push Kobe out of the conversation, but fact is he hasn’t earned the title of “best shooting guard in the league”.  What’s amusing to me is even at his age, Kobe is still being compared to a 23-year old superstar like Harden which talks to the greatness of Kobe Bryant.  Harden has many more years in this league and he will be a special player, but at the current moment, he ranks #2 in the league behind Kobe.  While the gap is obviously closing, he still has not jumped into the #1 slot.  Those who argue for Harden over Kobe cannot even put together a solid argument as to why. No facts, just opinion and extreme bias.

Kobe uses all the negative words said about him as motivation and is what’s fueling his return to the court. As fans, we know he will return to the court in a big way and we expect nothing less than the elite level we have been so honored to watch over his career.  Fans from other teams think (and hope) that isn’t the case just so they can stick out their chest and say Kobe Bryant is finished, which I’m sure he smiles (and laughs) when hearing that.

To Kobe Bryant, show us again.

But most importantly, show them and prove them wrong…

Again.

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The NBA announced today the new schedule for the upcoming 2013-2014 NBA season.  Riddled with marquis games, rivalries, and guaranteed blowouts this season looks to be quite the ride.  You can look at the schedule here via ESPN.

The season opens on October 29th with Los Angeles playing Los Angeles in an epic battle of LA.  Some other notable games for the Lakers are playing the Heat at Staples Center on Christmas Day, and visiting Dwight Howard and the Rockets on November 7th.  The opening night game versus the Clippers will perhaps have a lot more meaning than appears at first glance.  Starting the season with a win there would give the Laker faithful a real hope for the rest of the season seeing as they were swept by their co tenants last year in the season series.  Dwight Howard doesn’t make a trip back to LA until February 19th when the Lakers host the Houston Rockets.  The Grammy road trip spans from January 15th – January 26th playing six games over that duration against PHX, BOS, TOR, CHI, MIA, ORL, and NYK, certainly no walk in the park.

The Lakers have a good core put together and should put up better numbers than many are anticipating this season so don’t throw in the towel just yet.  This season is sure to be filled with its share of ups and downs but has a rich helping of great, exciting games for fans every where to enjoy.

Here’s to a good season Nation, less than 3 months away.

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While on his tour in China, Kobe Bryant gave an update to NBA.com’s Jonathan Hartzell on where he is at in his recovery from the ruptured left achilles’ tendon he suffered last April:

“The surgical procedure was different […] and because of that the recovery has been different,” Bryant said in the southern city of Shenzhen. “The normal timetable for recovery from an Achilles, we’ve shattered that. Three-and-a-half months I can already walk just fine, I’m lifting weights with the Achilles just fine and that’s different. So we don’t know what that timetable is going to be. It’s kind of new territory for us all.”’

After years of defying the odds when it comes to injuries, it should come as no surprise to hear this positive news regarding the health of the Lakers superstar, who will be entering his 18th year in the league.

While it’s okay to be optimistic about Kobe’s recovery process, it’s important to remember that we are still three months away from the start of the season and that Kobe is still a long way away from being able to step back onto the court at the level we’ve come to see.

Source: Bryant ‘Shatters’ Recovery Timetable (NBA.com)

UPDATE: Here is a video of Kobe talking about his recovery:

Kobe talks about recovery

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According to reports, Marcus Landry has agreed to a “small guarantee” with the Lakers and is expected to be at training camp to try and make the final roster.

Landry tweeted (@mlandry11) – I thank God for this Opportunity to be apart of a great organization #lakers #HardWorkPaysOff #itsallGod

In the Vegas summer league, Landry averaged 15.2 points a game, shooting 42.1% from the field and 37.1% from long distance.

Landry played for the Reno Bighorns in the NBA D-League last season and made the D-League All Star team.

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The Lakers officially hired Kurt Rambis and Johnny Davis as Assistant Coached to Mike D’Antoni’s staff.

Kurt Rambis (@KRambis) tweeted “It’s official. I’m back with the @Lakers. #Assistant coach. Very excited. @ESPN @TWC.” Rambis was the assistant coach to the Lakers for most of Phil Jackson’s tenure, and ran the defense during the 2009 championship season.

Johnny Davis has 20 years NBA coaching experience, and is coming from the Toronto Raptors.

Mike D’Antoni stated in an article on Lakers.comKurt and Johnny bring many years of NBA experience both as coaches and as former players to this team,” “Kurt is a great basketball mind, extremely good at working with big men and his experience as a head coach in this league is going to prove very helpful to our staff. Johnny is a two-time NBA head coach with years of experience playing as well as coaching in this league. The vast array of NBA knowledge he brings to the table will be invaluable to us.”

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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.