Byron Scott’s hiring as Lakers head coach is not only a homecoming for the franchise he once played for, but also for the city he grew up in and is already doing his part to give back to the community.
On Tuesday, Scott announced his role as a mentor at Centennial High School’s Male Academy, an intervention program for the school’s ninth and tenth grade students. During the school year, Scott will be part of the program to mentor the young men while also taking part in motivational discussions.
Scott attended Morningside High School in Inglewood, which is six miles away from Centennial in Compton.
In his introduction at the high school, Scott’s main focus was to tell the students to focus on their education more so than athletic aspirations.
Lakers reporter Mike Trudell said Scott asked how many students believed they would become professional athletes, with many hands going up.
“You have a better opportunity to be the next (President) Obama than the next LeBron,” said Scott.
The response was not in any way to discourage the students from chasing their dreams, but to drive home the point that getting their degree and education is essential.
The press conference did not come without basketball as students were able to ask questions of their own and Scott was asked by a student as to who would be starting for him once the season came around, which resulted in an interesting response from the new head coach.
“Other than Kobe, it’s up for grabs.”
It is no surprise that Kobe is penciled in as a starter, but with acquisitions such as Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin, to say every position other than shooting guard is open was not the answer some would expect. Although it could very well mean Scott is promoting competition as training camp opens in the coming weeks, giving legitimate shots for players like lottery pick Julius Randle to prove their worth.
As Scott begins his new tenure as head coach for the purple and gold, it is great to see him going back to his roots and giving back to the city he loves by putting effort into making a difference in the lives of the younger generation.
In the past four years, the Male Academy at Centennial High School has helped students improve attendance rates, disciplinary issues and academic performance. It is also credited for increasing graduation rates by 10 percent. The previous mentor was former NFL quarterback Vince Evans, who graduated from USC, and played for the Chicago Bears as well as the Los Angeles Raiders.
After a miserable 2013-14 season that led to an unusually long off-season, we finally have something to look forward to. Yesterday, the NBA released the 2014-2015 regular season schedule. After saying goodbye to Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, and Chris Kaman (among others) the Lakers will begin the season with many fresh faces. Over the Summer, the Lakers added veterans Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, and Ed Davis along with rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. They will join returning Lakers Xavier Henry, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, and Nick Young. Oh, and I forgot, after only playing 6 games last season, Kobe Bryant will be hungry and healthy to start the season. A sight that Laker fans sorely missed.
With training camp just around the corner… Here is a preview of the 2014-2015 Lakers Regular Season Schedule:
In 1 of only 3 games on opening night, the Lakers will begin their season at home against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. After sitting out all but 6 games last season, this will mark the first time Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard face each other since Howard’s departure 2 summers ago. It will also mark the first time Jeremy Lin will face his former team after being traded this past summer to the Lakers. In 4 games last season, the Rockets took the season series from the Lakers 3-1. However, after losing key role players in Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik it remains to be seen how the Rockets will fare this season. After opening night, the Lakers and Rockets will meet again on Nov 19 (@HOU) and Jan 25 (@LAL).
CHRISTMAS IN CHICAGO:
December 25th wouldn’t be Christmas without a little Lakers basketball. However, we’ll have a change of scenery this Christmas when the Lakers play their first holiday game away from Staples since 2006, when they played against Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat. This year, Kris Kringle reunites us with a familiar face when the Lakers go up against Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls. This will be the first time Gasol and Carlos Boozer face their former teams after swapping places this Summer. It will also be the first time the Lakers will meet Derrick Rose after sitting out almost 2 full seasons due to injury. The two teams will meet again on Jan 29 when Gasol makes his Staples Center return.
GRAMMY ROAD TRIP:
This season’s Grammy trip seems fairly tame compared to those in years past. In previous seasons, the Grammy trip has lasted as long as 7 games in 12 days. This season the Lakers will only visit 4 cities in a 9 day span. The trip will begin in New York when the Lakers face the Knicks for the first time on Feb 1. Then we head to Milwaukee (Feb 4), where Julius Randle and the #2 overall pick, Jabari Paker, will meet for the first time in the NBA. The trip continues in Orlando (Feb 6), where Randle will go up against another lottery pick, Aaron Gordon (#4 overall). The trip will conclude when the Lakers visit Coach Scott’s former team to take on LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, (Kevin Love? Andrew Wiggins?), and the Cavs in Cleveland on Feb 8.
Last season, the Grammy trip was a 7 game trip where the Lakers went 2-5. This season, being an unusually short trip with no back-to-backs, the Lakers should end the road trip with a winning record. I don’t see Milwaukee or Orlando being much of a threat and we all know how much Kobe loves playing in Madison Square Garden. I expect the Lakers to come away from the Grammy trip going 3-1.
This season, the Lakers will play a total of 16 pairs of B2B games. They’ll start the season right off the bat playing their first 4 games in 2 sets of home/away B2Bs against the Rockets/Suns and the Clippers/Warriors. The Lakers will be the visiting team for a majority of the games in these B2Bs. They will only play 8 of the 32 games at Staples (one will be an away game against the Clippers), all 8 occur on the first night of the B2B. And of course, as it seems to happen every season, the Lakers will play against the Denver Nuggets in the Mile High City on the second night of a B2B following a Clipper home game on April 8th. The Lakers seem to always struggle in this category, in 38 B2B games (19 pairs) last season, the Lakers ended with a record of 11-27, never winning a set of games. They’re going to need to turn that around this season if they expect to improve.
Fresh off the Donald Sterling fiasco, new Clipper owner, Steve Ballmer, and the rest of the Clipper team will almost certainly have some extra spark this season. Especially after newly appointed Lakers head coach (and former head coach of Clippers superstar Chris Paul), Byron Scott, declared that LA was still a Laker town. The Lakers will face the Clippers the usual 4 times (2 home, 2 away) this season, with the first match coming early in the season on Halloween night as a Laker home game. The remaining match-ups will take place on Jan. 7 (@LAC), Apr. 5 (@LAL), and Apr. 7 (@LAC).
After losing the season opener to the Lakers last season, the Clippers dismantled the Lakers by an average of 36 points in the remaining 3 contests and ended up taking the season series 3-1. The hallway series doesn’t get any easier for the Lakers this season after the Clippers added former Laker Jordan Farmar and Spencer Hawes to their depth chart.
A NEW STORY FOR AN OLD RIVALRY:
The Lakers/Celtics rivalry is a part of NBA history, even though it may not be as enticing these days as they were in the past, regardless if it’s for championships, regular season records, or lottery picks, there will always be a certain buzz surrounding a Lakers/Celtics match-up. This season’s match-ups could be the start of a new story when rookies Julius Randle and Marcus Smart take their places in this historic rivalry. Smart was taken by the Celtics with the 6th pick in the draft, one ahead of Randle. After being drafted, Randle said that he felt he should have been drafted higher. “The teams that passed on me will regret it” he said. Let’s hope he starts when the Lakers face the Celtics on Dec. 5 (@BOS) and Feb. 22 (@LAL).
NEW YORK, NEW YORK:
I wouldn’t normally consider a Lakers/Knicks game to be a “notable” game at the beginning of the season, but this year there are too many stories to ignore. Most of LA is still coping with the fact that Phil Jackson agreed to become the President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks last season, but this season we get the added bonus of seeing the team coached by Kobe’s longtime sidekick, Derek Fisher. Not to mention, there’s that Carmelo Anthony guy who turned down a max contract from the Lakers to re-sign with the Knicks this summer. We can watch all this drama unfold when the Lakers and Knicks faceoff on Feb 1 (@NYK) and Mar 12 (@LAL).
Also, the Brooklyn Nets will be in town to play the Lakers at Staples on Feb 20. Why do I consider this game “notable” you ask? It will be the Lakers first game after the Feb 19 NBA Trade Deadline. It’s never too early to speculate last minute trade deadline deals is it?
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:
- The defending champion San Antonio Spurs will face the Lakers 3 times this season on Nov 14 (@LAL), Dec 12 (@SAS), and Jan 23 (@SAS).
- LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the Cleveland Cavaliers will make their first trip to LA on Jan 15 and the Lakers will head to Cleveland as the last stop in the Grammy road trip on Feb 8 for their only 2 meetings of the season.
- Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will also face Kobe and the Lakers 3 times this season beginning on Dec 19 (@LAL), Mar 1(@LAL), and Mar 24 (@OKC).
- And finally, after all of that, the Lakers will conclude the 2014-2015 regular season with a home and home against the Sacramento Kings on Apr 13 (@SAC) and Apr 15 (@LAL).
It’s obviously too early to tell what kind of success, if any, the Lakers will have this season, but there are encouraging signs. Less back-to-backs than last season along with a shorter Grammy trip will benefit the health of our team. Also, an extended All-Star break will allow the team to rest up to make a push in the second half of the season. If Laker fans have learned anything from the past 2 seasons it’s that health will play a tremendous role in the success of this team. And with a healthy Kobe Bryant ready to start the season, we’re already a leg up over last year.
For the first time in three seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers will take their Christmas act on the road.
According to multiple media outlets, the Lakers will face the Chicago Bulls in a showdown with no shortages of story lines.
Kobe Bryant, 36, is coming off of a season-ending knee injury and will look to prove to the basketball world that he is still a force to be reckoned with.
Bulls star Derrick Rose will look to return to MVP form after missing the entire 2013 campaign with a torn ACL.
The game will also mark the first meeting between Bryant and his former teammate and good friend, Pau Gasol, since the Spaniard signed with the Bulls as a free agent this summer.
Then, there is Carlos Boozer. The ex-Bull fell victim to the NBA’s amnesty clause on July 17th of this summer.
The last time the two ball clubs met on Christmas was during the lockout shortened 2011-12 season in which the Bulls were able to overcome a late six point deficit in the final minute to steal a 88-87 victory in front of a stunned STAPLES Center crowd.
While some believe Carlos Boozer is better suited to come off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers, the 12-year veteran fully intends to start when next season begins.
“Absolutely,” said Boozer, in response to being asked if he thinks he will be a starter in Los Angeles at his introductory press conference Friday.
The Lakers acquired Boozer late last week, submitting the winning bid, $3.251 million, for the power forward after the Chicago Bulls used the amnesty clause. Chicago will be responsible for paying Boozer the remaining $13.55 million on his contract that expires at the end of next season.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak said he was surprised the team was able to pick up Boozer in the bidding process.
“Unexpectedly for us, our bid was the highest bid and we were awarded Carlos,” said Kupchak. “Not for a second did we think he would be available to us.
With a front court consisting of Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly, Ed Davis, and Julius Randle, Boozer joins a rotation as the player with the most NBA experience, which surely will be crucial when it comes to playing time.
Boozer mentioned that he has spoken multiple times to his new teammate Kobe Bryant, who played together on All-Star teams and in the 2008 Summer Olympics on the “Redeem Team”.
“Come ready. Come ready to lead. Come ready to surprise some people,” said Boozer of Kobe’s message to him.
There are concerns whether Boozer will be able to produce at a high-level. Defensively, there is not much to expect from him, but offensively he will surely help fill a void left by the departing Pau Gasol, who joined the Bulls this offseason.
The 32-year old said he continues to work hard everyday, noting he was in the gym when he found out the news of the Lakers acquiring him and while he was excited, he continued to work out for two more hours.
He will turn 33-years old in November but feels he still has a lot to offer to the Lakers and the NBA.
“My body feels great,” said Boozer. “I don’t know how long I’m going to play, maybe four or five, six more years, maybe seven.”
Boozer has been a solid contributor over his 12-year NBA career, averaging 16.6 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. His best years came in Utah where he averaged 19.3 points and 10.5 rebounds over six seasons.
In 2010, Boozer agreed to a five-year deal with the Chicago Bulls as a free agent but did not perform as well as in previous years, averaging 15.5 points and 7.1 rebounds in the last four seasons. His contract was always in question and the Bulls attempted to move him in recent seasons but with no success.
Boozer was drafted out of Duke in 2002 as a second round pick, 35th overall, by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
VIDEO: Carlos Boozer scores 19 points and grabs 12 rebounds in 101-92 victory over the Phoenix Suns
Most Lakers fans have expressed disappointment and frustration towards Lakers management this offseason, primarily towards Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss and Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
This will be the second summer in a row that the Lakers have not acquired a big-name free agent while losing a key asset simultaneously. Last year, the Lakers could not acquire high-quality players like PG Chris Paul, SF Andre Igudola, and PF Paul Millsap while C Dwight Howard left the Lakers to sign with Houston Rockets. This off season, the Lakers could not acquire neither SF LeBron James nor SF Carmelo Anthony, which correlated to C Pau Gasol leaving the Lakers to head to the Chicago Bulls to compete for another NBA championship.
In the past, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant vocally expressed his displeasure with Lakers management–most notably during 2007 when he demanded a trade from the Lakers and in 2011 when the Lakers traded Lamar Odom away for a trade exception. However, Bryant tells ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne that he approves the effort Lakers management made this offseason, despite not coming away with big name free agents.
Kobe: "I can sit here and tell you with 100 percent honesty that I'm happy with the effort the organization put forward this summer"
Bryant seems to understand that despite the long shot, the Lakers did everything they could possibly do to acquire James or Anthony, which included a 2.5 hour presentation towards Anthony to convince him to join Bryant and the rest of the Lakers for this upcoming season.
Furthermore, Bryant approves of the Lakers so-called “Plan B” in response to losing out on free agents and losing their own.
Kobe "I think Mitch has responded quite efficiently (from missing on Melo/Pau) by picking up some of the pieces he has"
The Lakers have acquired PG Jeremy Lin and two draft picks from the Houston Rockets, PF Ed Davis in free agency, and PF Carlos Boozer after the Chicago Bulls decided to amnesty him. Furthermore, the Lakers re-signed SF Nick Young, C/PF Jordan Hill, and G Xavier Henry, while selecting PF Julius Randle and PG Jordan Clarkson at the 2014 NBA Draft.
If the Lakers can hire a high-quality coach to maximize the ability of the Lakers roster and acquire an impact player during the NBA Trade Deadline, Bryant and the rest of the Lakers can still surprise the rest of the NBA and make some noise to return to the NBA playoffs this upcoming season.
The Los Angeles Lakers were able to win the blind bidding process for former Chicago Bull Carlos Boozer on Thursday. The process consisted of teams with enough salary cap space to pay Boozer’s contract for the upcoming 2014-15 NBA season, the Lakers bid consisted of $3.25 million.
The Bulls must still pay Boozer the $13.6 million that they owe him from the final year of his contract. However, by using the amnesty clause, his contract is removed from their luxury-tax and salary-cap which frees the team to make more moves in free agency.
Signing Boozer certainly adds more depth and mileage to a depleted front court as the Lakers were looking very inexperienced and very thin. As it stands, the Lakers currently have Boozer, Jordan Hill (two years, $18 million), first round pick Julius Randle, former lottery selection Ed Davis (signed on Wednesday for two years, $2 million), and center Robert Sacre.
While Boozer is not the max caliber player that Lakers were hoping for, he certainly is a serviceable player who can put score on bigger and quicker opponents, be aggressive and assertive on defense, and mentor the younger players that the Lakers are signing to develop.
Averaging 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, Boozer is on the downside of production in terms of his career. Yet when the Bulls needed him most, he certainly stepped up to the challenge.
Boozer’s can do mentality and aggressive style of play will bode well for this Lakers team as the young front court players will be able to learn a lot and watch an effective big man perform every night.
February 9, 2014 — 12:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
The Lakers (18-32) play vs. Chicago Bulls (24-25) in front of national audience broadcast on ABC. They come off a solid victory vs Philadelphia 76ers, 112-98. By the way, the actually allowed less than 100 points for the first time since their January 3rd victory vs. Utah Jazz.
Steve Nash looks back to normal for the time being, playing similar to how he played during his days at Phoenix. Nash definitely showed youth in his steps on his 40th birthday, scoring 19 points and dishing out 5 assists while dissecting the Philadelphia 76ers defense en route to a victory.
Without the services of the Lakers top 3 players, SG Kobe Bryant, C Pau Gasol, and F Nick Young, the duration of Nash playing at a high level seems very uncertain due to nerve issues he has tried to heal for the past year.
The Bulls come into today’s game vs. Lakers currently sitting in 5th place in Eastern Conference despite having a sub .500 record. After superstar PG Derrick Rose tore a meniscus in his knee, sidelining him most likely for the test of this season, and trading all-star SF Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls seek to qualify for the playoffs and to make a run at the top free agents this off-season.
Furthermore, the Bulls will most likely be without the services of F Carlos Boozer today due to a strained left calf.
Without Boozer, All-Star C Joakin Noah will anchor the Bulls today. Noah, who averages 11.7 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 1.3 BPG, makes his name on the defensive end, being named on the NBA All-Defensive 1st team last season. His athleticism and energy on the defensive end clogs up driving lanes by covering a lot of ground in the paint.
PG – Steve Nash / Kirk Hinrich [Advantage: Lakers] SG – Steve Blake / Jimmy Butler [Advantage: Bulls] SF – Wesley Johnson / Mike Dunleavy [Advantage: Bulls] PF – Ryan Kelly / Taj Gibson [Advantage: Bulls] C – Robert Sacre / Joakim Noah [Advantage: Bulls]
Notable Bench Players
Bulls: G Tony Snell, PG DJ Augustin, C Nazr Mohammed
Lakers: PG Kendall Marshall, C Chris Kaman, F Jordan Hill, F Shawne Williams
Bench Advantage: Even
Bulls: Out-G Derrick Rose, Out-F Carlos Boozer
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-SG Jodie Meeks, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G/F Nick Young, Out-C Pau Gasol
Keys for Lakers Victory
Rebounding: The Lakers absolutely have to limit the Bulls to one possession and not allow offensive rebounds in order to have a chance at winning this match up. The Bulls, who averages the NBA’s 6th best 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, used their big man, Noah, Boozer, and 6th man F Taj Gibson to grab 19 offensive rebounds vs. Lakers to win in their last matchup.. This does not suit well at all for the Lakers, who allow the most offensive rebounds in the league by a wide margin at 13.3 offensive rebounds per game. Instead of having the guards leak out after every Bulls shot, all 5 Lakers have to find a Bulls player to box out and then crash the boards to not allow extra unnecessary possessions.
The Lakers do not match up well vs. the Bulls at all. The Bulls play very physical on both ends of the floor under head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s leadership, especially since they do not possess as much talent compared to previous years. Simply speaking, if the Lakers rebound the ball well, they win. If they don’t, they will not win.
January 20, 2014 — 5:00 PM (PST)
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
The Lakers (16-25) now have a winning streak.
After beating the Toronto Raptors yesterday morning, the Lakers will play the Chicago Bulls (19-20) on the Bulls’ home court as they have their first winning streak since December 20th, when they had a 2 game winning streak.
G/F Nick Young came back from his 1 game suspension and played with excellent confidence, scoring a game-high 29 points, shooting 7-13 from the field and made 10-11 free throws. F Ryan Kelly thrived in his first career start, scoring 17 points and having confidence getting shots up. The Lakers now have to use these last 2 victories to fuel them in tonight’s game and play with confidence.
The Bulls have made a lot of roster turnovers and its management seems to be looking more into the future especially after superstar PG Derrick Rose tore a meniscus in his knee, ending his season. The Bulls traded all-star SF Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers a few weeks ago for 3 future draft picks and C Andrew Bynum‘s contract to free up their salary.
However, the Bulls have played well, going 5-2, since Deng’s trade. The Lakers cannot take them lightly and stay focused throughout the game. Without their best 2 players from the beginning of the season, the Bulls win a lot of their games on defense, allowing the 3rd lowest field goal percentage in the NBA at 43.0%. F Carlos Boozer leads the Bulls on the offensive end, averaging 15.0 PPG and 8.6 RPG. Boozer has played solidly despite the roster transactions in trying to keep the Bulls in a playoff position this season.
Boozer lines up next to All-Star C Joakin Noah to create a force on the front line. Noah, who averages 11.7 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 1.3 BPG, makes his name on the defensive end, being named on the NBA All-Defensive 1st team last season. Hopefully, C Pau Gasol can stay aggressively despite matching up with Noah at the Center position tonight to keep the Lakers in the game.
PG - Kendall Marshall / Kirk Hinrich [Advantage: Bulls]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Jimmy Butler [Advantage: Bulls]
SF - Wesley Johnson / Mike Dunleavy [Advantage: Bulls]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Carlos Boozer [Advantage: Bulls]
C - Pau Gasol / Joakim Noah [Advantage: Lakers]
Notable Bench Players
Bulls: G Tony Snell, PG DJ Augustin, F Taj Gibson
Lakers: G Nick Young, G Manny Harris, F Jordan Hill
Bench Advantage: Lakers
Bulls: Out-G Derrick Rose
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar
Keys for Lakers Victory
Rebounding: The Lakers absolutely have to limit the Bulls to one possession and not allow offensive rebounds in order to have a chance at winning this match up. The Bulls average the NBA’s 6th best 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, using their big man, Noah, Boozer, and 6th man F Taj Gibson to crash the offensive glass after every shot. This does not suit well at all for the Lakers, who allow the most offensive rebounds in the league by a wide margin at 13.1 offensive rebounds per game. Instead of having the guards leak out after every Bulls shot, all 5 Lakers have to find a Bulls player to box out and then crash the boards to not allow extra unnecessary possessions.
The Lakers do not match up well vs. the Bulls at all. The Bulls play very physical on both ends of the floor under Head Coach Tom Thibodeau‘s leadership, especially since they do not possess as much talent compared to previous years. Shooting very well like they did vs. Raptors will keep the Lakers in the game, but they need to maintain their energy for a full 48 minutes without allowing any lengthy