Monthly Archive for June, 2009

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2009 Lakers Summer League Schedule

Twenty-one NBA teams, including the 2009 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, will compete in this year’s NBA Summer League presented by EA SPORTS in a 55-game schedule that was announced today. A team of NBA Development League Select players will also participate in the action taking place at the Thomas & Mack Center and the COX Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas July 10-19.

To view L.A.’s schedule, CLICK HERE.

Proviso East High Backboards

During a coming-soon podcast we did with Shannon Brown’s father Chris, we learned that during Shannon’s freshman year, his father received a call from Proviso East High School asking him to come on down to the Maywood, Ill., location.

When Chris, a police sergeant, showed up, he saw that his son had smashed one of the school’s backboards with a dunk. Yeah, he was a bit concerned about the prospect of paying for it, but he couldn’t deny a bit of pride crept in.

As it were, Proviso East – home of Michael Finley, Doc Rivers, Reggie Jordan, Brown’s teammate Dee Brown and others – saw a 6-foot something freshman, not a visiting monster like Dwight Howard, smash the glass.

Apparently a 44.5 inch vertical helps?

Stay tuned later this week for the podcast.

Parade Photo Gallery

Lakers TeamMiss out on the Lakers 2009 Championship Parade?

Don’t fret … The NBA Photos crew was on hand to snap up some of the finer moments.

CLICK HERE to view the gallery put together by Lakers.com.’s Ty Nowell.

Exit Interview Central

09_interviews_central_top500If you’re reading this blog entry then you’re probably aware of the 16 previous post that deal with the team’s exit interviews and post-season pressers. Along with that we’ve got video of every player, along with Mitch Kupchak & Phil Jackson, talking about the season that was and the upcoming off-season. Check it all out at Lakers.com’s Exit Interview Central.

Kobe Bryant: Exit Interview

blog_090619kobebryantAll-Star Co-MVP; First Team All-NBA; NBA All-Defensive First Team … And, the big one, NBA Finals MVP after L.A.’s championship victory over Orlando.

The accolades describe Kobe Bryant’s 2008-09 quite well, as do the numbers: 26.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists with 1.46 steals on 46.7 percent from the field, 35.1 percent from three and 85.6 percent from the line in 36.1 minutes per game. In the playoffs, Bryant picked his numbers up to 30.2 points, 5.3 boards, 5.5 assists, 1.65 steals and 0.91 blocks on 45.7 percent from the field, 34.9 from three and 88.3 from the charity stripe in 40.9 minutes.

Bryant’s focused drive to the championship that began in the offseason filtered its way through his teammates, and ultimately, his fourth title was the result.

Here are the highlights from Bryant’s exit interview:

- His immediate plans: “I’ll take a couple months off. I’m going to enjoy (myself), it’s going to be very relaxing, no evil flashbacks. Everything is very positive.”

- On how he’s feeling after all the work: “Extremely satisfying because you put in a lot of time and effort to fix things, and to see it finally happen, it’s great. It’s a great memory.”

- Bryant, who notoriously doesn’t sleep much, said he’s looking for activities to do at six in the morning.

- He said his daughters want him around the house all the time, and recognize that the season is over. So his “Daddy has to do an exit meeting” was met with a “I thought you said it was over!”

- On Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom coming back: “Extremely critical. Those are pieces that are tough to find. We have such a great team from chemistry down to execution. It’s rare you find guys that are so talented that are willing to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the group.”

- Meeting for Kobe, Phil and Mitch is all “BS ing.” They already know each other, he says, there’s nothing to talk about. It’s not like Kobe needs any basketball tips.

- On his finger: “I won a championship, I’m not fixing a damn thing.”

- Kobe went with his “I can’t even read” defense when talking about his contract and whether or not he would opt out. “I’ve been deflecting that all year, I ain’t gonna stop now. I’m not going anywhere, you know I’m not going anywhere. It’s a waste of our breath.”

- Bryant says he will “definitely” go watch his favorite soccer team, FC Barcelona, when they come to L.A.

- On how far the team has come: “Ownership made the necessary steps to put us in this position. They made the sacrifices to get the necessary players in here.”

Mitch Kupchack: Season-Ending Presser

blog_090619mitchkupchakAfter Phil Jackson took his turn, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak sat down to address assembled media members.

He began with an opening statement:

Obviously it was a wonderful, exciting and very fulfilling year from lots of perspectives. It’s been a whirlwind week since we returned to Los Angeles. I thought the parade was wonderful … It kind of brings a conclusion to the celebration. As you know, the draft is next week. We’re actively working on preparation for the draft and have a busy summer.

Here are some highlights from the rest, which will be made available on video shortly:

- Kupchak maintained that the team would like to keep as much of the championship-winning team in place as possible, including Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza and Kobe Bryant. He said that the whole process could end quickly, since opposing teams can make offers starting on July 7, and hopes that the process goes quickly: “The market is a free market … We don’t have rights to match on any players. We’ll make decisions and hopefully we can (do it quickly).”

- The bottom line on re-signing L.A.’s free agents: “I would use the word hopeful. I don’t know what the market will be.”

- On Phil Jackson’s potential return, including the setting of a date upon which Phil Jackson is obligated to declare his intentions: “There is a date, and this is nothing new. We signed him to a two year extension with the understanding that the second year was his option. We picked a date that made sense to both parties … Here we are, and that date is fast approaching. It’s not really fair to impose our ability to force him to make a decision under the circumstances (of the season going so long). We’ll work with him and give him the time he needs. We’re talking about hopefully within the next week or two or three, but we’re not going to hold him to (the date).

- On whose decision it is to make regarding how far L.A. will go over the luxury tax: “It’s not my decision. That much we know for sure. Dr. Buss, Jimmy Buss and I meet on a regular basis. We have not met recently although I talk to Jimmy all the time and he talks to his dad all the time. I anticipate the three of us getting together prior to July 1. It’s Dr. Buss’s decision.

- Kupchack delved into the team’s draft situation, the synthesis of which is that L.A. likely won’t keep all of its picks: “We have three picks, and if we bring back the players we want to we’ll have at least 13 players on our roster. It stands to reason that we’d look to either move a pick, trade a pick, exchange picks for future picks or pick a player and look for them to play overseas for at least a year.”

- On Kobe’s situation: “Obviously we’re aware of (his contract options) but we have no indication of what he may or may not do.”

- On what it was like to win this season after what he went through as a GM being questioned in the last few years: “I’ve always felt comfortable in my position and my relationship with ownership. I think it’s a good thing (the pressures in L.A.) because it challenges you.”

- Kupchak expressed what it meant to him to see the kind of support the people gave at the parade. “I was emotional. It was an emotional sign of support for our organization.”

- Things don’t slow down for Kupchak until the end of August, he said.

- Kupchak cited the “huge support” he’s gotten from Ronnie Lester, his assistant GM, who has handled so much.

- The best chance for L.A. to repeat, according to Kupchak, is to “Bring the team back as close to we can.” Kupchak has confidence that can happen because Dr. Buss has “Always done the right thing in terms of putting this organization in a position to compete. He makes really well thought out basketball-business decisions. I trust his judgment and ability to do that.”

Phil Jackson: Season-Ending Presser

blog_090619philjacksonAfter addressing the media hundreds of times throughout the 2008-09 championship season, Jackson did it one final time at L.A.’s practice facility. Here are highlights of the presser:

- First, Jackson was asked what he talked about with President Barak Obama: “Basically I told him that sometimes when you’re lefty, you have to go right to shoot the ball.” Jackson added that they talked about when the team would be able to go to the White House, which could come prior to the season (sometime in October) or perhaps when the team is on an East Coast trip early next season.

- The “early next season” reference of course begged the question of if Jackson would return: “I haven’t made that decision. Mitch (Kupchak) and I have talked about it a little the last few days. There are a couple of (health-related) appointments I still have that have to be fulfilled before I (make that decision).”

- More Jackson on health: “I feel good … I had some issues this year that showed up particularly on road trips that concerned me and our health staff a little bit.”

- Jackson was asked if he felt like it was an either/or situation with Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom: “I’m convinced that we can get both of these guys back to play. Obviously it’s going to take sacrifices on many parts. Dr. Buss is going to have to make sacrifices at some parts … But it’s possible to (get it done).

- On potential for repeating: “Once you learn how to win it helps so much more. Age wise certainly favors this team’s” chance to win more championships.

- Jackson said it wasn’t all cookies and ice cream in the exit interviews with players: “This is a challenge. I have to challenge some of the players. Some didn’t perform up to the standards I wanted. It wasn’t all pats on the back and have a great summer, this is going to be three or four months of (hard work) if we’re going to come back.”

- Phil on Kobe potentially restructuring a deal: “He has an opportunity to do that too (Shaq, Garnett, Tim Duncan). That’s an option that Kobe does hold.” But Jackson said his advice to Kobe is to “Do what he feels right for himself.”

- There is a date in Jackson’s contract that is “closing in fast” for him to decide, but it’s all pending his health tests. If the tests are favorable, there is “no doubt” that Jackson would come back. Kupchak said that date was mutually agreed upon but not set in stone, and that the team expects to know in no more than three weeks what Jackson will do.

- Jackson was asked from where he gets some inspiration to keep coaching … His answer was the players.

- After being pulled into the championship locker room huddle, Jackson thought: “Boy this is cold.” … I felt at that moment that their joy was passed on to me.”

- Phil cited Games 5 and 6 against Denver in the Western Conference Finals as the Lakers really figuring out how to play the type of basketball urged by Jackson and Tex Winter that, to his mind, made them deserving of being champions.

- And in closing, a summary of how pleasing it was to lead his team: “Obviously you guys know that Kobe, Fish and I have a long-standing relationship … 10 years. Except for one year when there was a little hiatus (2004), this has been an ongoing relationship. Those guys know the heartbeat of what goes on this team, how I work and what pace I work at. As co-captains they are very capable leaders. Pau is as an intelligent and skilled big man as I’ve ever had … A really great basketball mind. With that kind of base, everyone else followed behind really well. We were concerned about all the minutes Kobe and Pau played, but they were right away game to come out and play … They were ready to play at the start of the year and from that standpoint I was very pleased with these guys. Their desire was to win this championship regardless of how we get it accomplished and what we had to sacrifice. That’s the best thing a coach can hear.”

D.J. Mbenga: Exit Interview

blog_090619djmbengaBackup center D.J. Mbenga won the rights to L.A.’s third center position, allowing the Lakers to send Chris Mihm to Memphis for a draft pick, yet still saw only 7.9 minutes per game in the regular season.

In those few minutes, Mbenga certainly blocked his lion’s share of shots, averaging 1.04 per game and earning a lot of STAPLES Center love in the process.

The Lakers have to decide whether or not to pick up an option on Mbenga’s contract for next season. Here are highlights of Mbenga’s exit interview:

- On his interview with Kupchak and Jackson: “It went pretty good. Very interesting. They’re very happy with my progression. They believe that if I keep working, I can make something happen. They want more understanding and inside stuff. Defense they’re pretty much happy with.”

- Mbenga said that the he’ll join his Belgian National team on July 1st to start training camp in Dallas, Texas, before going over to the European Championships.

- On being the first Belgian national to win a championship: “It feels so good, not just in Belgium, but everyone starts to appreciate what you’ve done. As a player, you always want to seize the moment like that.”

- On the appreciation he received this season from fans: “That’s how you know the people appreciate what you give them – Because whenever I go out there, I give everything I can. Next year it might be different. Maybe I’ll be more in the rotation, not just energy.”

- The primary focus of Mbenga, on a daily basis, was to challenge Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol as much as he could. He felt strongly that his work against them in practice made them better, tougher players.

- Mbenga would like to be back in L.A. next season, but said he lets his agent deal with all the business, and merely works his butt off on the court.

- Mbenga spent some time talking about his emphasis on education in Africa, which has been a primary focus of his particularly in his native Congo. He said winning a championship doesn’t necessarily enhance that mission, but it can’t hurt.

Adam Morrison: Exit Interview

blog_090619adammorrisonAfter being traded to the Lakers from the Charlotte Bobcats alongside Shannon Brown for Vladimir Radmanovic midseason, Adam Morrison appeared in just eight games for the Lakers, playing a total of 44 minutes to score 10 points with eight boards and three assists.

Morrison, the former No. 3 overall pick, did not appear in a playoff game, but instead focused on really getting his knee to the point of full recovery after tearing his ACL at the beginning of the 2007-08 season.

Under contract through next season, Morrison talked about his personal goals at his exit interview:

- Morrison said that he would play for the Lakers in the Las Vegas Summer League.

- More than anything else, Morrison said he needs to continue to get his knee at full strength on one hand, and on the other, continue to learn L.A.’s offense.

- He said his knee “Feels pretty normal for the most point,” but that he “Still doesn’t have full range of flexibility but they say that’s how it goes.”

- The highlight to him in the postseason: Game 5 was pretty cool, but the Denver and Houston series kind of gelled our team together, the toughness (we had to show), especially late in those series.

- Morrison detailed that his chance to contribute to the team was by playing on the scout teams in practice trying to get the guys who played minutes ready to go. He impersonated players like Carmelo Anthony, Hedo Turkoglu, Ron Artest, Shane Battier and other forwards.

- Morrison wasn’t surprised at all by what Shannon Brown showed: “I knew Shannon could do that, he just didn’t really get an opportunity.”

- Of course it’s a big offseason for Morrison since next is the last of his rookie deal: “I have to work hard and maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t … Next year is hugely important, it’s my contract year.”

- Morrison cited assistant coach Brian Shaw for doing a lot to try and help him learn the offense in practice.

- He also talked about dealing with diabetes, but he doesn’t “look at himself as a poster child” for the condition.

- One thing he said he appreciated about Phil Jackson was: “If you’re not getting minutes (in games), you still get to play in practice, so that helps you keep your rhythm about you and improve even in you’re not on the floor.”

Josh Powell: Exit Interview

blog_090618joshpowellFinding time on the basketball frontcourt floor when Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom are on your team, but Josh Powell made the most of his when receiving burn, putting up 17 points and nine boards in a late-season game against Houston that was missed by Odom and Bynum.

As such, he earned the respect and trust of his teammates and coach, and ended up playing an underrated role in terms of keeping the team loose behind the scenes.

Overall, he averaged 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 11.7 regular season minutes and 2.1 points with 1.2 boards in 5.2 postseason minutes.

The highlights of his exit interview:

- “The meeting went very well,” he said. “They told me, aside from the business aspect, what they wanted me to work on with the offense and certain skills. Not that I know how I can get my shots and be productive. My jump shot, picking and popping, going up more quickly after getting offensive rebounds…”

- On his contract situation, as L.A. has a team option they can choose to pick up: “They didn’t give any promises or guarantees. They appreciated my effort this year and that I came in and worked hard every day. They have a lot of decisions to make.”

- Powell talked about how hard it was to be where he was in the rotation, but acknowledged that he couldn’t worry about it and had to focus only on working hard and contributing where he could.

- On his role of keeping the team loose, alongside Lamar Odom: “I kind of let my personality flow with every team the best I can. Everyone was close and open … We had more of a family bond and could show more of our personality.”

- Powell’s a big Phil Jackson fan: “I told Phil today: I just appreciate him for allowing guys to be players on the court and go learn. You want to perform for him. There were times when I made two or three mistakes and he left me in the game. I appreciate that because lots of coaches (don’t have that patience).”

- On making the first three of his career to close Game 1 of the Finals: “You see, I got a wet ball.”

- Powell’s had a very difficult path to the NBA which included stints in Europe and the NBA D-League, but said he won’t regret anything about it since that’s where his dedicationa nd hunger comes from: “A lot of these guys are drafted, lottery picks, I was undrafted and had to really, really work to get to this point.”

- Even being in the parade last night it still hadn’t settled in for Powell and his family, who’s been by his side throughout his journey: “Just to see the response from the fans and the city, I don’t know… Crazy.”

- Powell said he kept his hair out in the parade because he promised us he would, which we appreciate to an extreme degree: “I did because I promised you.”