Saturday, August 30, 2014
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Nick Young

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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:

OPENING NIGHT:

Photo Credit: NBA
Photo Credit: NBA

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:

(Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

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.

BACK-TO-BACKS:

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.

The 16 B2B match-ups will be against:

10/28-29: HOU/@PHX                    10/31-11/1: LAC/@GSW                11/11-12: @MEM/@NOP

11/18-19: @ATL/@HOU                 12/2-3: @DET/@WAS                    12/14-15: @MIN/@IND

12/25-26: @CHI/@DAL                 1/4-5: IND/@POR                            1/15-16: CLE/@UTA

2/10-11: DEN/@POR                      3/3-4: @CHA/@MIA                       3/15-16: ATL/@GSW

3/24-25: @OKC/@MIN                  3/29-30: @BKN/@PH                     4/7-8: @LAC/@DEN

4/12-13: DAL/@SAC

BATTLE FOR LA:

Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown, Getty images.

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:

Photo: Jason DeCrow AP
Photo: Jason DeCrow AP

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:

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

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.

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Image: Aaron Poole/NBAE via Getty Images

According to multiple sources, the Los Angeles Lakers have re-signed swingman Nick Young.

The contract for Young, as being reported by TNT’s David Aldridge, is a four-year deal worth $21.5 million, with the fourth year being a player option.

Young, popularly known by his self-proclaimed nickname ‘Swaggy P’, averaged 17.9 ppg on 43.5% shooting, 1.5 apg, 2.6 rpg in his first year with the Lakers.

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Photo: Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

In what was an expected decision, guard Nick Young officially opted out of his final year with the Lakers and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

A fan favorite, “Swaggy P” was one of the positives in a season full of negatives for the Lakers.  Young led the team with a career-high 17.9 points in 28.3 minutes a game for the purple and gold, providing a spark to an offense that was without Kobe Bryant for all but six games.

“We anticipated and expected that Nick would choose to become a free agent,” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “We very much appreciate his contributions to last season’s team, and we will hopefully be able to bring him back. However, he, his agent and the market will dictate his future direction.”

While Kupchak and the Lakers would love to bring Young back, his price tag will surely play a part in his future with the team. Earlier this month, Young noted that he would take a hometown discount to stay in Los Angeles:

“It depends how much the discount is,” Young said. “But as a player, everyone wants a place they feel comfortable at. I feel comfortable in L.A. But I can’t keep taking these discounts. I need a raise a little bit. But if it’s for the right cost and they’re bringing in players and I fit into the rotation, then I’ll probably take a pay cut.”

In his seven year career, the most Young has made per year is $5.6 million in 2012-2013 with the Philadelphia 76ers.  It remains unknown what the market will be for former USC Trojan, but he will surely receive interest from many teams looking for a spark off the bench.

Young has a career average of 12.2 points but has shown the ability to go off for big nights.  This past season, Young led the bench in scoring with 18.8 points and had two 40-point games.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of D. Clarke Evans, Getty Images

April 16, 2014 — 5:00 PM (PST)
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
TV: ESPN / TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

After a great effort to obtain a win on Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers will face off vs. San Antonio Spurs to close out this regular season.

G/F Nick Young led the way for the Lakers, scoring 41 points off the bench vs. Utah Jazz on Monday, carrying positive momentum into a game that does not bear any implications besides playing for pride.

Since the Spurs have clinched the top overall seed for the playoffs, expect Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich to limit the minutes of his core players if not rest all of them tonight.

Projected Starters

PG – Tony Parker/ Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Spurs]
SG – Danny Green / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Spurs]
SF – Kawhi Leonard / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Spurs]
PF – Tim Duncan / Ryan Kelly [Advantage: Spurs]
C – Boris Diaw / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Spurs: G Manu Ginobili, G Marco Bellinelli, C Tiago Splitter, PG Patrick Mills
Lakers: C Robert Sacre, G Jordan Farmar, Nick Young

Bench Advantage: Spurs

Injury List

Spurs: None
Lakers: Out-G Kent Bazemore, Out-G Kobe Bryant,  Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-C Chris Kaman, Out-G Xavier Henry

Bottom Line

This will clearly be the final time Laker fans will see a Lakers roster look like this since drastic roster movements will most likely occur this off-season. Everyone except for C Robert Sacre who will be available for tonight’s match up might no longer be wearing Laker uniforms this summer. Therefore, I expect the Laker players to play with maximum effort since this will be the final audition to not only Lakers management, but general managers of the rest of the NBA teams.

Prediction

Spurs: 111-108

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Image Credit: Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are set to take on the Sacramento Kings tonight with a current record of 25-49. While defeating the Kings is the primary focus of tonight, Bleacher Report columnist Kevin Ding certainly made headlines with his comments on Mike D’Antoni‘s future with the Lakers. In the column, Ding reported how D’Antoni may be around longer than most anticipate:

“D’Antoni has one more guaranteed season left on his Lakers contract, and the club is leaning toward retaining him despite some privately disgruntled players and massive public disdain. It’s not clear which way the organization will go with him.”

Financially the decision to retain D’Antoni makes sense. Going back to the 2012-2013 season, the Lakers made a huge financial commitment after firing head coach Mike Brown and consequently hiring D’Antoni days later. Until the Cavaliers signed Brown, the Lakers were due to pay the remaining salary on his contract while paying D’Antoni his salary in his three-year $12 million dollar deal. Add in the new $48 million dollar deal Kobe Bryant also signed and you can see why finances are key in this situation.

With this Lakers team being one of the few in history to not make the playoffs and have players speak out publicly about not retaining D’Antoni for next season, this could turn into a huge fault for the organization. Media, fans, and players alike have spoken out repeatedly about how a change in coaching needs to be made moving forward. Bringing D’Antoni back for another season would not only derail morale for the team but make a statement to potential free agents that seven seconds or less will lead the way in the team’s future.

The Lakers will soon need to make an official stand on D’Antoni’s future in regards to next season and potentially his fourth season as head coach. Luring free agents to Los Angeles will become increasingly difficult if they believe that not only the role players on the team are disgruntled, but star players like Bryant and Pau Gasol are too. Moving on is always something difficult to do, but in some situations it is a necessary part of life. If the Lakers are serious about reclaiming their position as one of the top franchises in the league then it is something they will have to do.

Stay tuned to LakerNation.com for more Los Angeles Lakers news and updates!

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Photo courtesy of Jose Luis Villegas, Getty Images

April 2, 2014 — 7:00 PM (PST)
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

After a tough loss vs. the Trail Blazers, the Lakers (25-49) make a very quick trip to the state capital to face off vs. Sacramento Kings (26-48).

In last night’s loss, F Nick Young came off the bench red hot, shooting 8-8 from the field to start, ending up scoring a season-high 40 points when the game was all set and done. Despite Young’s contribution, the Lakers lacked the defensive intensity necessary to hold off the Trail Blazers.

Tonight, Young and the rest of the Lakers will have to play with much better effort on the defensive end to have a chance of winning tonight. Fortunately, the Kings do not share the ball well, averaging only 18.9 APG as a team, which is the worst in the NBA.

PG Steve Nash will likely not play tonight. Despite playing very well, scoring 10 points and dishing out 10 assists while playing limited minutes, Nash injured his ankle and reaggravated his back injury that he has been fighting for a long period of time.

Kings’ C DeMarcus Cousins comes into tonight’s game averaging a career high in points and rebounds, averaging a double-double 22.3 PPG and 11.7 RPG. Many consider Cousins to possess one of the best low-post games in the NBA. Now that he has the individual skills to become an all-star, Cousins now has to become a vocal team leader and help create a team chemistry necessary to lead the Kings back into the playoffs moving forward.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall  Isaiah Thomas [Advantage: Kings]

SG - Jodie Meeks / Ben McLemore [Advantage: Lakers]

SF - Kent Bazemore Rudy Gay [Advantage: Kings]

PF - Jordan Hill / Jason Thompson [Advantage: Even]

C - Chris Kaman DeMarcus Cousins  [Advantage: Kings]

Notable Bench Players

Kings: PG Ray McCallumReggie EvansDerrick Williams

Lakers: PG Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Jordan Hill, F Ryan Kelly

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Kings: Out-G Jason Terry, Out-F Carl Landry, GTD-PG Isaiah Thomas

Lakers: Out-C Pau Gasol, GTD-C Chris Kaman, Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Doubtful-PG Steve Nash, GTD-G Xavier Henry

Bottom Line

Despite playing for the 2nd night in a row, the Lakers should stay competitive vs. Kings. Theoretically, many Lakers fans might possess uncertainty on whether or not they want the Lakers to win tonight. the Kings currently are 1 game ahead of the Lakers, which means the Lakers will have a higher possibility of winning the lottery if season ended today. Regardless, the Kings are still our rivals stemming from the early 2000′s era and any victory vs. Kings will be pleasant.

If the Lakers can cut off the passing lanes on the defensive end and play with a lot of energy, they should come away with a victory tonight.

Prediction

Lakers: 105-97

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Photo: Mike Ehrmann | Getty Images

March 28, 2014 — 5:00 PM (PST)
Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Last night’s game truly defines the Lakers‘ (24-47) season. They could come up with an unexpected victory against the Knicks, playing the best they can, and then immediately come right back and have an ugly loss. After blowing out the Knicks on Tuesday, the Lakers lost vs. Milwaukee Bucks Thursday, by far the worst NBA team this season.

Now, the Lakers seek to get back to its winning ways by facing off vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (35-35)Based on the last 2 games, it seems like the Lakers will rely heavily on F Jordan Hill and F Nick Young. Hill had a monster game despite the loss, scoring 27 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, and actually had a double-double by the end of the first half.

Meanwhile, Young continues to bring spark off the bench, contributing 17 more points last night. Young brings an asset to the Lakers that they have been lacking throughout the month of February; a guard who can create his own shots at any point of the game.

Despite heading into another playoff-less season, Timberwolves’ PF Kevin Love still dominates his position this season. Love has turned into an NBA star, scoring 26.3 PPG and averaging 12.3 RPG this season. Love has tremendous footwork in the post, a skill he has nearly mastered throughout his NBA career while possessing the ability to shoot behind the three-point line, shooting 38.2%.

Projected Starters

PG – Ricky Rubio / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Timberwolves]
SG – Kevin Martin / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Even]
SF – Corey Brewer / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Even]
PF – Kevin Love / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Timberwolves]
C – Gorgui Dieng / Chris Kaman [Advantage: Even]

Notable Bench Players

Timberwolves: F Luc Richard M’Bah Moute, G Alexei Shved, F Dante Cunningham, G JJ Barea
Lakers: PG Steve Nash, F Nick Young C Robert SacreXavier Henry, G Kent Bazemore

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Timberwolves: Out-C Nickola Pekovic, Out-F Ronny Turiaf, Out-G AJ Price
Lakers: Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G Kobe Bryant

Bottom Line

Fans never know which Laker product they will get at any given moment; the one that destroyed the Knicks, or the one who lost vs. Bucks. Tonight, the Lakers are playing for 2 consecutive nights on the road, so fatigue will most likely set in for tonight’s matchup. The first quarter will most likely dictate how the Lakers will play tonight.

Prediction

Timberwolves: 113-104

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Image: Associated Press

March 23, 2014 — 6:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

In what could become the worst season in Lakers history, the Lakers will try to gain a victory tonight vs. Orlando Magic (11-32) in a dual between the two teams which lost C Dwight Howard. Both teams will be in the upper echelon of the upcoming NBA draft as they have two of the worst records in NBA this season.

The Lakers, who suffered another loss vs. Wizards on Friday, got solid contributions from a few returnees from injuries. F Nick Young returned from injury to score 21 points, leading the team in that category with SG Jodie Meeks. PG Steve Nash dropped 11 assists despite only playing in 18 minutes, while F Jordan Hill looked excellent. Although Hill was ejected for getting involved in a scuffle with Wizards C Drew Gooden, he still managed to grab 14 rebounds and be a spark plug off the bench.

Former UCLA Bruin G Aaron Afflalo leads these young group of Magic players, scoring 19.3 PPG, grabbing 3.9 RPG, and dishing out 3.5 APG. He has a very solid all around game, playing both ends of the floor well, and seeks to be one of the key players that will stay on the Magic roster after they finish rebuilding their team.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall / Victor Oladipo [Advantage: Magic]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Aaron Afflalo [Advantage: Magic]
SF - Wesley Johnson / Mo Harkless [Advantage: Even]
PF - Pau Gasol /Nikola Vucevic [Advantage: Lakers]
C -  Robert Sacre Kyle O’Quinn [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Magic: F Tobias HarrisG Doron LambG Ronnie Price, C DeWayne Dedmon

Lakers: G Nick Young, PG Steve Nash, F Jordan Hill, Kent Bazemore

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Magic: GTD-PG Jameer Nelson 

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant,  Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Doubtful-PG Steve Nash,

Bottom Line

Hard to believe the Lakers finally can match-up vs a team with as bad of a record as the Lakers over the last month. However, the Lakers received help from Hill, Young, and Nash’s return, hoping they can help salvage their season as it winds down the homestretch. The match up actually favors the Lakers tonight, so they should be able to come away with a victory tonight.

Prediction

Lakers: 115-108

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

March 21, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Stuck in a mud of another losing streak, the Lakers seek to snap their 3-game losing streak tonight as they face off vs. Washington Wizards. After competing hard vs. Spurs on Wednesday night, the Lakers simply ran out of gas, suffering a 109-125 loss.

However, help is on its way for the Lakers at least for tonight. PG Steve Nash, F Nick Young, and F Jordan Hill, will all return tonight after they were recovering from their various injuries. Nash, who has not played in 5 weeks from nagging nerve issues, will come off the bench tonight and be on a minutes restriction, according to Head Coach Mike D’Antoni.

Young, who was one of front-runners to win the 6th man award this season before suffering a knee injury, seek to jump start the Lakers who have not won consistently since December.  However, F Wesley Johnson will sit out tonight’s game due to illness

Meanwhile, the Wizards seek their first playoff appearance since the 2007-2008 season, seem to be on their way after years of rebuilding and developing their roster. All-Star PG John Wall has stepped up as the team leader, scoring a career high 19.8 PPG and dishing out a career high 8.8 APG. Wall has tremendous athleticism and seems to have controlled it very well this season, becoming a much efficient player.

However, the Wizards might will be without their top 2 post players tonight. Former Nuggets C Nene will be out tonight trying to recover from a Sprained MCL he suffered last month, while C Marcin Gortat is currently a game time decision due to back issues.

Projected Starters

PG – John Wall/ Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Wizards]
SG – Bradley Beal / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Wizards]
SF – Trevor Ariza /  Kent Bazemore [Advantage: Wizards]
PF – Trevor Booker / Ryan Kelly [Advantage: Even]
C – Kevin Seraphin / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Wizards: F Martell Webster, G Andre Miller, C Drew Gooden, F Chris Singleton
Lakers: PG STEVE NASH, G Nick Young, C Robert SacreXavier Henry

Bench Advantage: Wizards

Injury List

Wizards: Out-C Nene, Out-F Glen Rice Jr, GTD-C Marcin Gortat
Lakers: Out-F Wesley Johnson, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G Kobe Bryant,   Probable-F Jordan Hill, Probable-F Nick Young, Will Play-PG Steve Nash,

Bottom Line

With uncertainties existing for the Wizards front-court rotation, the Lakers have to utilize C Pau Gasol throughout the entire game. The Wizards currently have nobody who could match-up well with Gasol, so the Lakers best chance to win will be to run their offense through him. The Lakers actually match-up decently vs. the Wizards back-court so they can definitely come away with a win tonight if they stay focused.

Prediction

Wizards: 113-111

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Getty Images

The NBA trade deadline has passed and with it any semblance of the Lakers making any kind of big personnel moves this season. This year has been a tough season for Laker fans as their team and its superstar have been hobbled by countless injuries. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. The Lakers go into this offseason with enough cap room to acquire a big name free agent. They did not trade Pau before the deadline, so the Lakers will either have a lot of cap room from Pau’s contract coming off the books, or they will be able to convince Pau to stay with the team for less money. That may seem like a long shot, but Pau loves the Lakers, he loves Kobe and he may also love their next head coach *wink wink*. They also have a first round draft pick that, given their abysmal record, will most likely be a top-5 pick. That means the Lakers will be able to sport a squad next season consisting of a Kobe, Pau, Big Name Free Agent X and Talented Draft Pick X core. That may not be enough to win a title next year, but it will absolutely be a contender if healthy and under the supervision of a new head coach. With all that said, here are some questions from LakerNation fans:

Q: Are we going to re-sign Nick Young next year?

- Jacob

A: If the Lakers are serious about contending immediately, they must re-sign Nick Young. Swaggy P has been one of the few bright spots this year for the Lakers as he earned the respect of Kobe and the rest of Laker Nation by competing every night. There are very few teams in this league that have a 6th man as effective as Nick Young. He is instant offense and his ability to draw foul calls on 3-pointers is uncanny. Young has always been capable of scoring, but he has an added intensity in his game since joining the Lakers this season. He knows what it takes to deliver for the Purple and Gold.

 

Q: How do you feel about the Lakers landing a big name free agent, this off-season with D’Antoni as the head coach?

- Jermaine

A: I feel very strongly about this issue, but I will do my best to keep it PG. THERE IS NO FREAKING WAY ANY BIG NAME FREE AGENT WANTS TO COME PLAY FOR A COACH THAT DOESN’T CARE ABOUT DEFENSE.  With the myriad of issues I have with Mike D’Antoni, the two I just mentioned take the cake. The man obviously doesn’t give a damn about defense when his team gives up an average of 105.9 PPG. That’s the 2nd worst in the entire NBA. Only the Philadelphia 76ers give up more points than us and they’re trying to lose every game this year! Let that sink in for a moment. D’Antoni may be a great offensive mind, but that does not make him a good head coach. I guarantee if Tom Thibodeau were coaching the Lakers, they would not be in the bottom half of the NBA in terms of defense. You want to talk about injuries? Look at the Chicago Bulls and their injuries. They rank 2nd overall in the league in terms of defense. Injuries are not an excuse for a lack of defense and effort. If the Lakers really want to land big name free agents this summer, Mike D’Antoni must be fired at the end of this season.

 

Q: Can we still get Love? Or Melo or even Deng? Please get them.

- Alexis

A: When you talk about Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and even Luol Deng, those guys want to win now. They don’t want to play for a coach with the same philosophies as Mike D’Antoni. Getting the right head coach will be step one. The second step will be finding out if Kobe is still Kobe. Make no mistake about it, if the Lakers didn’t have Kobe Bryant on their team, none of these free agents (except maybe Love) would even consider coming to the Lakers. Kobe must show that he is still one of the best basketball players in the world after coming off two of the worst injuries in his career.

 

Q: My question is, will the LA Lakers make it to the playoffs this season or next season, yes or no?

- Eyrika

A: I stated in my preseason article that the Lakers would not make the playoffs this season and that remains true. As for next season, it truly depends on a number of outcomes and possibilities. Who will be the new head coach? Will the Lakers land a top-5 draft pick this year? If so, who will they select? What free agents will be brought in? Which current players will stay with the Lakers? And, of course, what will the status of Kobe Bryant be? If Kobe is still Kobe, which I assume will be true, the Lakers will always have a shot. If the Lakers bring in one of the earlier mentioned big name free agents, that shot increases tenfold. My gut tells me the Lakers will get a new head coach, a lottery pick, land a big name free agent and the most underrated move they will make will be re-signing Pau Gasol. With that scenario, I believe the Lakers will be instant contenders next season and in the future. All things will be right in Los Angeles as the Lakers are at the top once again.

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Image: Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

In what could potentially be the biggest setback for Kobe Bryant, it was announced that he will be re-evaluated in another three weeks as his pain and swelling in his left knee has not subsided.

With the news and timetable, the question becomes louder as to if Kobe will return this season.  While fans would love to see the Black Mamba return to the court, one has to wonder if the risk is worth it in a lost season.

For those wondering why the news is significant, three weeks will put his injury evaluation on March 14 which could possibly only result in Kobe being cleared for more activity, not necessarily for game action.

The best case scenario is for him to be cleared to play on that date, but even then it would take another two or three weeks for conditioning and practice, allowing Kobe to return with possibly 10 or less games in the season.

In other injury news, Nick Young has been cleared to play Sunday versus the Brooklyn Nets.  Young suffered a non-displaced fracture of the left patella back on Feb. 5 versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Meanwhile, Xavier Henry was also cleared to practice, but still cannot participate in 5-on-5 full contact activities.   Henry injured his right knee back on Dec. 29 versus the Philadelphia 76ers and was originally expected to miss 7-10 days.

All three players were examined by Lakers’ team doctor Steve Lombardo during the Lakers 101-92 victory over the Boston Celtics.

 

 

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Photo: Christian Petersen | Getty Images

The Lakers have announced that guard Nick Young will be out a minimum of two weeks after being diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the left patella and a bone bruise.

Young injured his knee in Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers. An MRI Thursday showed the significance of the knee injury.

At this point, there are very little words to describe how much bad luck this Lakers team has had this season. Losing Swaggy P is a big blow to this team that continues to battle every night despite a depleted roster.  This season, Young is averaging 16.9 points in 28.8 minutes a game.

Fortunately, the Lakers have gotten back Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Jordan Farmar, but it is terrible to lose yet another player. Earlier in the week, Jodie Meeks sprained his ankle and will be out until at least Sunday.  Kobe Bryant is still out for another two weeks before he is re-evaluated.

While the Lakers have announced Young is out at least two weeks, it should be noted that non-displaced fractures of the patella could take as long as six-to-eight weeks to heal. Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long for Swaggy P to return to the court.

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Photo: Mike Ehrmann | Getty Images

How did Manu Ginobili, Lamar Odom, Ray Allen, Jason Terry, and James Posey contribute to their NBA teams in the last decade?

The answer?

They all played the Sixth Man role and became some of the most important pieces to help their teams win an NBA Championship.

The Los Angeles Lakers have a huge opportunity offseason to negate the atrocity of this season, mired by injuries and turmoil, if they use their huge salary cap space this off-season to field a roster that can contend for another NBA Championship.

The good news? One crucial asset the Lakers must retain on their 2014-2015 team, outside of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, happens to be wearing a Lakers uniform this season.

Lakers Sixth Man Nick Young, or “Swaggy P”, has taken full advantage of his return to the City of Angels to play for the team he rooted for throughout his childhood.

Before he joined the Lakers, the 7-year NBA veteran Young fostered a negative reputation throughout the NBA as a low percentage, volume shooter who took too many difficult shots and became a defensive liability. However, Young has slammed the door shut on his critics so far this season and has become the Lakers’ MVP and a runaway winner of the “Sixth Man of the Year” award if the season concluded today and the Lakers had a winning record.

Young has lead the Lakers in scoring, averaging 17.1 PPG this season in only 28.7 MPG, including scoring 29, 31 vs. Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls this week.

Kobe Bryant and Nick Young’s Relationship

Photo: Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images
Photo: Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images

Bryant and Young each represent two completely different characters. Bryant, known as the “Black Mamba”, possesses the old-school mentality of striking for the kill every time he is out on the court and being dead serious both on and off the floor. Meanwhile, Young has become well-known for his “swagger” both on and off the floor–wearing ridiculous looking outfits and the displaying joy out on the floor.

Two different characters, yes. But they both play the same exact style of ball; both want the ball during crunch time and have no fear in taking any shots to try to lead their team to victory.

Young has mimicked Bryant as much as possible and has tried to pick up the slack of Bryant’s absence by being the go-to guy on the floor, pretending to be Bryant in pre-game interviews, debuting the Kobe IX this week against the Miami Heat, and even sporting a mini-afro that Bryant famously sported during his early years.

Also, we cannot help to notice that Young has clearly learned a few tricks from Bryant, including drawing multiple shooting fouls, something Bryant has been known for throughout his career.

Most notably, when Young took over the game vs. the Chicago Bulls on Monday, we could not help but see Bryant with a huge grin on his face watching Young frustrate the Bulls by hitting shot after shot, and drawing multiple shooting fouls, which show similarity to Bryant’s style of attack on offense.

“I think he’s the guy that gets more fouls from the 3-point line than I’ve ever seen,” Gasol said to ESPNLA’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s incredible the way he gets fouled shooting 3s. I don’t know how that happens so often. But he does it really well, and I’m happy he plays well for us.”

Many players have not taken advantage of Bryant’s no-nonsense basketball lessons and advices in the past. However, Young seems to be one of the few players that has taken full advantage of learning from one of the NBA’s greatest player of all time.

“Kobe’s been a great mentor for me, just telling me all kind of things during the game,” Young said to McMenamin. “That’s been unbelievable for me this whole year, just learning from the greatest player to play this game. “Who wouldn’t want to learn from or have Kobe in their locker room?”

Bryant has seen Young progress in front of his own eyes, and loves what he stands for as a player; most notably when he called out his teammates for not having his back after being ejected vs. the Phoenix Suns.

“He’s bringing an edge to the game. He’s bringing a competitiveness that’s been missing,” Bryant explained to the LA Daily News’s Mark Medina. “The altercation in Phoenix brought things to a head to where ‘This is not OK.’ If you’re upset about something, you need to be upset about it instead of sweeping it under the rug.”

Although Young and Bryant play with a different mindset on the court, they both show killer instinct in different ways.

What the Future Holds

Image: Stephen Dunn | Getty Images
Image: Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

Although no definitive information currently exists regarding Young’s future with the Lakers, the Lakers’ management definitely prioritizes re-signing Young to a new long-term contract.

Young will most likely opt out of his player-option for next season and seek a long-term contract this off-season. A comparison could be found in the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford‘s contract in the range of four years and $25 million.

Although I agree that inadequate coaches and locker room turmoil doomed the Lakers from competing for the NBA Championships these past two seasons, one of the main reasons for the Lakers’ recent failures has been the non-existence of a solid bench unit after Lamar Odom‘s departure.

The Lakers have now found a solution and a foundation off the bench in Swaggy P.

Nick Young will certainly help limit Bryant’s minutes on the floor and guarantee the Lakers always have a go-to-guy on the floor at all times in the future.

Although this season has been a mess, look for Young to be one of the main foundations for another push at an NBA Championship before Kobe Bryant’s career comes to a close. If the Lakers can keep Young, Gasol and acquire a superstar this off-season, the Lakers will rise back to the top before the number 24 goes up into the rafters at STAPLES Center.

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January 23, 2014 — 5:30 PM (PST)
American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
TV: TNT
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (16-26) suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss Monday night vs. Chicago Bulls after allowing a wide open layup off an inbound pass with 0.9 sec left on the game clock.

Players on the Lakers were clearly out of piosition, and we cannot decipher from our television screen whether it was the player’s fault or the coach’s fault for poor positioning.

Nevertheless, they have to move on and play the 2-time defending NBA Championships Miami Heat tonight in a nationally televised game.

The Heat have coasted through this season and have suffered a few losses versus very mediocre teams by playing down to their level. Still, the Heat seem to be destined for either of the top 2 seeds in the east and seem to only focus solely on the playoffs.

Without G Dwyane Wade‘s service tonight, the ball will mostly be in F LeBron James and F Chris Bosh will run the show tonight. James, who averages 26.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.5 APG, has dominated both ends of the floor and continues to improve every season, now shooting at a career high FG % of 58%. Unfortunately, we will not have a James vs. Bryant duel this season as G Kobe Bryant still recovers from his fractured knee.

F Chris Bosh continues to play like an all-star this season, averaging 16.7 PPG and 6.7 RPG. Without having to matchup with any legitimate post players besides C/F Pau Gasol, Bosh should score a lot tonight if he plays aggressively and continues to drive to the basket.

Meanwhile, 2 Lakers have been on a tear for the Lakers despite their roller-coaster season.

The real Pau Gasol has finally returned to the Lakers.

I know Gasol has worn the Laker uniform since 2008, but we have not seen Gasol play this dominantly since the NBA championship run from 2008-2010. It must be correlated with PG Kendall Marshall giving Gasol the ball in his sweet spot, and Gasol has played with more energy on both ends of the floor as a result. In his last 5 games, Gasol has averaged 22.0 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 3.0 APG and 1.8 BPG on 53.0% FG.

Also, we cannot forget about F Nick “Swaggy P” Young‘s dominance coming off the bench. A clear 6th man award winner and the team MVP if the season ended today, Young has scored 29 points and 31 points respectively in his last 2 games after coming off a 1-game suspension.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall / Mario Chalmers [Advantage: Even]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Ray Allen [Advantage: Heat]
SF - Wesley Johnson / LeBron James [Advantage: Heat]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Shane Battier [Advantage: Heat]
C - Pau Gasol / Chris Bosh [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Heat: G Michael BeasleyPG Norris ColeC Greg Oden

Lakers: G Nick Young, G Manny Harris, F Jordan Hill

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Heat: Out-G Dwyane Wade

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 Heat to one possession and not allow offensive rebounds in order to have a chance at winning this match up. Allowing 19 offensive rebounds to the Bulls led to the Lakers’ eventual loss. Since the Heat already average last in the NBA grabbing offensive rebounds per game, the Lakers can absolutely ill-afford to let this team get extra possessions. We know when the Lakers are hot on the offensive end, they are very hot. However, the Lakers have to find a Heat player to box out and then crash the boards to not allow extra possessions.

Bottom Line

The Lakers should come out with a lot of energy tonight after 2 days of rest. However, since the Heat do not have Wade available tonight, expect the Heat to do so too. Hopefully, the Lakers play their game and do not let the Heat players intimidate them on both ends of the floor. If they keep the offensive rebounds allowed to a minimum, play good team defense, and shoot the ball well tonight, they will make tonight’s game competitive. If they do not, expect the Heat to dominate tonight at the Lakers’ expense

Prediction

Heat: 105-90

 

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Former number two overall NBA draft pick Michael Beasley worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers for a second time Wednesday.