Los Angeles Lakers: D-Fenders

D-Fenders target Bob MacKinnon to be coach

August, 2, 2013
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
After hiring their last three head coaches primarily based on their NBA experience, the Los Angeles D-Fenders are targeting a former D-League champion this time around.

The D-Fenders, the Los Angeles Lakers' D-League affiliate, are in advanced discussions to hire Springfield Armor head coach Bob MacKinnon to fill the vacancy caused when Mark Madsen joined Mike D'Antoni's staff on the Lakers, according to multiple league sources.

MacKinnon guided Springfield to just a 18-32 record last season but won a championship with the Colorado 14ers (now the Texas Legends) in 2009 in his first year coaching in the D-League.

MacKinnon, whose father Bob MacKinnon Sr. played, coached and was an executive in the NBA, was formerly an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina, which is the alma mater of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

Madsen, who never coached a game for the D-Fenders before being promoted to D'Antoni's staff, was hired in May to replace Reggie Theus, who left the D-Fenders after a 21-29 season to become the head coach at Cal State Northridge. Theus was previously the head coach for the Sacramento Kings. Before Theus, the D-Fenders were coached by Eric Musselman (who previously coached the Golden State Warriors). Musselman coached the D-Fenders for one season, winning D-League coach of the year honors, before leaving to man the sidelines at Arizona State.

Darius Morris sent to the D-League

March, 7, 2012
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
The news isn't exactly surprising, and frankly could have come a week or two earlier. Rookie point guard Darius Morris has been assigned to the D-Fenders, the team's NBDL affiliate.

The 21-year old Morris, who left Michigan after his sophomore season, has been glued to the bench since Steve Blake returned from his rib injury, playing a grand total of 10 minutes since seeing 18 minutes of burn against the Pacers on January 22nd. There just aren't any minutes for him, and if he's not going to play with the Lakers he should be playing somewhere. He'll get to do that with the D-Fenders, as Andrew Goudelock and Devin Ebanks have already this season.

D-Fenders prep for Lakers training camp invitations

December, 6, 2011
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- For several members of the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Monday’s home game against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers was more than just a D-League contest.

It was the unofficial start to Los Angeles Lakers training camp.

The Lakers are set to open camp Friday on the same Toyota Sports Center court on which the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ D-League affiliate, played their game against the Vipers. As many as seven players on the D-Fenders’ 12-man roster are expected to be invited to camps across the NBA, with several of those players staying in L.A. to try out for the varsity version of the purple and gold.

“We have a staff that works very closely with [the Lakers],” said D-Fenders CEO Joey Buss, son of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss. “Our offices are very close in vicinity so we keep collaborating with [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak], Mike Brown and the Lakers' assistant coaching staff. I think you’ll see when official training camp rosters are set, what influence is there.”

The players expected to make the leap from D-League standouts to NBA hopefuls are guards Jamaal Tinsley, Elijah Millsap, Eniel Polynice and Courtney Fortson; forwards Brian Hamilton and Zach Andrews; and center Brandon Costner.

Official training camp rosters will not be released until later in the week after the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, but two of the more intriguing players who could be vying for a spot next to Kobe Bryant & Co. are Tinsley and Millsap.

Tinsley, the No. 1 overall pick in last month’s D-League draft, averaged 9.8 points, 6.6 assists and 1.59 steals in eight years in the NBA but hasn’t played in the league since 2009-10 with Memphis.

He appeared slimmed down Monday and, despite the frantic pace in the D-Fenders’ 132-126 win, was able to maintain steady control of the game on offense at the point guard position.

After being out of professional basketball last season, he had a humble perspective when asked about the possibility of playing in a pro training camp.

(Read full post)

D-Fenders tab Jamaal Tinsley as D-League's top pick

November, 3, 2011
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
For reasons requiring little explanation, we (meaning those working in and observing the pro hoops universe) have been shorted our normal quotient of genuinely interesting basketball stories.

Quietly, one has appeared on the landscape.

Thursday, with the first pick in this year's D-League draft, the L.A. D-Fenders, back after a one-year hiatus, selected former Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley. The same Jamaal Tinsley who back in the mid-oughts was seen as a potential rising star in the league. Instead his career was derailed by injury issues, off court problems, temperament questions, and clashes with management serious enough Indiana chose to pay Tinsley to stay away during the 2008-09 season.

He last played for Memphis during the '09-'10 campaign, suiting up in 38 games and delivering relatively little on the floor.

Putting aside for a moment any questions of attitude -- dropping out of the league being forced to work your way back through the NBDL is enough to change a person's perspective-- don't rush to add Tinsley's name to L.A.'s point guard depth chart. He faces very long odds in his quest to return to the Association, whether with the Lakers or any other team. Tinsley turns 34 in February, and has played a grand total of 77 games since '07-'08. He has always been a terrible outside shooter (a terrible shooter from anywhere, really, only twice in his eight year career cracking 41 percent from the floor) so he won't stretch a defense. Nor does Tinsley attack the basket with impunity, earning trips to the line.

So while he's certainly been a productive player at points during he during his career, he's also always been flawed. In the NBA, age and inactivity tend not to accentuate the positive. Whether Tinsley has seen the light, so to speak, in how he approaches his work I have no idea. The reality is it may not matter.

America loves a comeback story, though, and this would certainly be a good one if Tinsley can pull it off.

D-Fenders' Musselman, Lakers' Brown share roots

October, 8, 2011
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
REDONDO BEACH -- Mike Brown wasn't the only head coach hired by the Lakers this summer.

While Brown was brought in to replace Phil Jackson and bring the Lakers back from a season that ended in disappointment, Eric Musselman was picked as the man to coach the Lakers' D-League franchise after a season that never occurred.

After only one winning season in its four-year existence and a bottoming-out 16-34 campaign in 2009-10, the D-Fenders took a hiatus in 2010-11 and shut down operations for a year to regroup and come back with a better-focused business strategy.

They return with Musselman calling the plays and the team playing its games at the cozy Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, the home of the Lakers' practice facility, rather than at the cavernous Staples Center where it often times seemed like the arena workers outnumbered the fans in attendance.

Brown was hired in May and has yet to go through a full practice with his team because of the NBA lockout, but Musselman -- who was hired in August -- stalked the sidelines for the first time as the D-Fenders coach Saturday.

The D-Fenders conducted an open tryout at Aviation Gym in Redondo Beach, inviting 45 players to showcase their skills in hopes of landing one of the five spots open for its upcoming veterans camp.

They will fill out the rest of the training camp roster from incumbent players who were placed on the Utah Flash last season while the D-Fenders were out of the league as well as from the five picks they have in the eight-round D-League draft.

Musselman, 46, is experienced when it comes to minor league basketball. He was hardly fazed trying to evaluate the hoard of players including Mater Dei product Taylor King (Duke, Villanova), Leuzinger High School standout Donnell Beverly (Connecticut) and Jeremiah Dominguez (Portland State) that he worked out for four hours Saturday.

Half a lifetime ago, Musselman was named the youngest head coach in the history of the Continental Basketball Association when the Rapid City Thrillers (great team name, by the way) hired him as a 23-year-old.

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Kobe Bryant
24.6 4.9 1.4 35.4
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.2
AssistsK. Bryant 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.5
BlocksE. Davis 1.2