Los Angeles Lakers: Kendall Marshall

Lakers still playing waiting game

July, 7, 2014
7/07/14
2:18
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Anthony & JamesJim McIsaac/Getty Images
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- While the Los Angeles Lakers tried to move forward with actual basketball Monday, gathering their group of summer league invitees for the first of a handful of practices before summer league tips off in Las Vegas on Friday, there’s still a lot of waiting going on.

Rookie Julius Randle, medically cleared by a foot specialist last week to play on his right foot without any further surgical procedures, is waiting to sign his contract before he can participate in the summer league games.

“We’ll see,” Randle said when asked if he would be suiting up for the Lakers first game against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. “It’s kind of really out of my hands right now. I’m ready to play whenever, but it’s not really in my hands right now.”

The Lakers, of course, are waiting to actually ink Randle to his rookie deal as long as they are pursuing Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, because they want to keep as much cap space open as possible to facilitate the deals.

ESPN writer and salary cap expert Larry Coon explained the Lakers’ reasoning in an email to ESPNLosAngles.com:


“Free agents, first round draft picks and exceptions have ‘cap holds’ which are used to account for the money that is expected to be spent, reducing the amount the team can spend on other teams’ free agents. As the Lakers’ first round draft pick (and number seven overall), Julius Randle has a cap hold on the Lakers’ books for $2.497,800. If the Lakers were to make a free agent offer to, say, Carmelo Anthony, they can’t offer him any of the money that’s in Randle’s cap hold -- it’s set aside for Randle.

“The amount of Randle’s cap hold is determined by the league salary scale, however teams can sign their first round picks for up to 120 percent of the scale amount, which means Randle will be eligible to sign for up to $2,997,360. High draft picks almost always sign for the full amount for which they are eligible. As soon as Randle signs his contract, his cap hold goes away and is replaced with his actual salary -- so instead of counting approximately $2.5 million on the Lakers’ books, he will count nearly $3 million.

"So when a team like the Lakers is chasing free agents, it makes sense to delay the signing of their first round draft picks. If the Lakers were to sign Randle first (assuming he will get the full 120%, which is a near certainty), they would have approximately $500,000 less to offer a free agent.”



Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall has also had his patience tested. He’s on a non-guaranteed contract for next season worth approximately $915,000. Despite starting 45 games last season for L.A. after being plucked from the D-League, he will be playing on the Lakers’ summer league team.

“I feel like I still have a lot to prove,” Marshall said of the summer league assignment. “For some reason, there’s always a reason why I’m successful or why I’m not successful. So I kind of need to put that doubt to rest and just go out there and prove I can play.”

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Lakers player reviews: Kendall Marshall

May, 28, 2014
5/28/14
12:00
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McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Kendall MarshallAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Lakers have a team option on Kendall Marshall for a relatively low price, so he should be back.

Kendall Marshall

2013-14 salary: $547,570 | Age: 22 | Season stats: 8.0 ppg, 8.8 ast.

Season recap: They say that luck is when preparation meets opportunity and Marshall certainly made his own luck when it came to the Lakers. After going from Steve Nash’s heir apparent in Phoenix, to being traded to Washington before the season began and summarily cut, Marshall excelled in the D-League enough to get the Lakers’ attention when they went searching for a point guard when injuries ravaged the roster. Marshall went from a 10-day contract to finishing out the season with L.A. At times, he looked like the all-everything guard out of North Carolina. At times, he looked like a severely flawed player with no set place in the NBA.

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Season highlight: There were two games that stood out for Marshall. First, there was the 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting to go with 15 assists in a home win against the Utah Jazz in just his eighth game with the team and then there was the 19 points (including a 4-for-5 mark from 3) and 14 assists in a road win over the rival Boston Celtics.

Season lowlight: Marshall had eight scoreless games for the Lakers and six games with five turnovers or more. However his worst game was probably his debut for the Lakers against the Golden State Warriors when he had four turnovers in six minutes of playing time.

Final grade: B-

Notes: It’s amazing to look back at the season and realize that at one point Marshall led the league in 3-point accuracy. With his unconventional release, Marshall deserves credit for adjusting to his limitations by attempting shots well beyond the 3-point line to allow himself enough time to get his shots off, but eventually his skill level came back to the norm. After shooting 46.5 percent from 3 in 25 games before the All-Star break, he shot just 31.6 percent from deep in 29 games after it.

Quotable: "The main thing was the mental approach. Obviously I have physical limitations so they want to make sure I master the game mentally. I felt like I was rookie this year. Playing every single night and playing almost 40 minutes a night wore on me.” -- Marshall said after his exit interview.

What's next?: The Lakers have a team option on Marshall for a relatively inexpensive $915,243 for next season. Even though there are clearly still holes in Marshall’s game that need to be filled, it’s hard to imagine L.A. getting more production out of a backup point guard at that price. He should be back.

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 113, Spurs 100

April, 16, 2014
4/16/14
7:32
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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SAN ANTONIO -- How does that saying go again?

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened?

Or in the Los Angeles Lakers' case, there were surely plenty of fans smiling Wednesday night because their dismal 2013-14 season is finally over.

They were a team that just couldn't get things right this season all the way to the bitter end, when all that was left to play for was draft seeding -- and they even messed that up with a two-game winning streak to finish things.

Before the Lakers knocked off the league's No. 1 team in the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday (albeit a Spurs team that did not dress Tim Duncan and played Tony Parker only 16 minutes), coach Mike D'Antoni was asked to reflect on the season that went awry.

"It’s something that -- we could have played better, obviously, but I don't know if we were good enough to win," D'Antoni said. "They tried their best. They were in a horrible situation. They were in a tough situation to start with, then it got horrible on them. But, I think overall, they competed."

For the nine guys still standing from the Lakers' 15-man roster, there was something to feel good about, at least knowing that they at least made their coach's claim ring true.

Time will tell just how much competing all the way to the end will hurt them when the draft lottery results are revealed next month, however.

How it happened: The Lakers saw their 13-point first-half lead disappear by intermission, but they were able to build their balloon back to 11 heading into the fourth. L.A. was able to keep its cushion large enough that MarShon Brooks played nine minutes in the final frame.

What it means: It's over. It's all over. The Lakers can only go up from here.

Hits: All five Lakers starters and eight of the nine players who got in the game overall scored in double digits, with Jordan Hill leading the charge with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Wesley Johnson (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Kendall Marshall (15 points, 11 assists) also chipped in with double-doubles.
L.A. had just nine turnovers.

Misses: Johnson shot just 5-for-17 from the field.

Stat of the game: 319. With both Steve Nash and Chris Kaman joining Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Kent Bazemore and Xavier Henry on the injured list for the season finale, the Lakers' season total for combined games missed because of injury rose to a staggering 319.

Up next: An offseason rife with question marks. What will become of D'Antoni? Where will their spot end up being in the draft lottery? Whom will they select with their pick? How many out of their 12 free agents will be back on the team next season? Will Bryant return healthy? How about Nash? Will he retire? What will the Lakers do with all that cap space they've hoarded? How long will it take for this franchise to get back on track?

Despite victory, D'Antoni won't win fans

April, 14, 2014
4/14/14
11:30
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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SALT LAKE CITY -- After he has already coached the Los Angeles Lakers through their worst season in the 66-year history of the franchise, you have to believe Mike D’Antoni wasn’t searching for another way to tick off fans Monday.

Intentional or not, there was more to D’Antoni’s accomplishment of snapping a seven-game Lakers losing streak with a 119-104 win against the lowly Utah Jazz. He also put himself firmly in the crosshairs with a faction of the purple and gold faithful who care only about the Lakers’ draft position at this point, rather than chasing meaningless wins to close out the season.

[+] EnlargeMike D'Antoni
Russ Isabella/USA TODAY SportsAs uncertain as coach Mike D'Antoni was about the Lakers' lottery chances, his job is to win games, not to lose them to potentially improve a draft pick.
“What are you going to tell them? ‘Don’t play hard’?” D’Antoni said when asked whether the subject had been broached with his team before playing an equally abysmal Utah team. “That’s not right.”

If D’Antoni had stopped talking right there, he could have been spared the ire from the fan base, as the unexpected win would have been chalked up to Nick Young (who hit the 40-point plateau for the second time in eight games) and big nights from Jodie Meeks (23 points), Jordan Hill (21 points) and Kendall Marshall (15 assists).

But D’Antoni didn’t stop there, of course.

He continued his answer to reveal that he didn’t know exactly what was at stake for the Lakers, who went into the night with a 25-55 record, playing against a Jazz team that was 24-56.

“They played hard, and I think, if I’m not mistaken, it’s the same number of pingpong balls, right?” D’Antoni said. “They flip a coin, or something.”

Turns out, he was mistaken. The Lakers went into the night with the sixth-worst record in the league. A loss to the Jazz would have put them in a tie for fifth with Utah, with the Lakers owning the tiebreaker as the worse team -- should the Jazz close out the season with a loss in Minnesota and L.A. finish things out with a loss in San Antonio -- because Utah would have won the season series 3-1.

A reporter informed D’Antoni that the win by the Lakers actually cemented the Jazz with a worse record and thus better lottery chances.

“I mean, you kind of hate that,” D’Antoni responded, realizing what the win did to the potential draft order. “But, I thought we had the same rank.”

Another reporter chimed in to tell D’Antoni that if the Lakers had lost to Utah, the coach would have been correct.

“Oh, I didn’t know that,” D’Antoni said. “Oh, OK. That’s all right; we’re going to beat San Antonio, anyway. So, it’s all for naught.”

In a way, D’Antoni’s ignorance in this case shouldn’t matter. His job is to coach the team to wins in the present. It is not to manipulate the outcomes of games to try to land better talent in the draft and potentially secure more wins in the future.

And, as D’Antoni pointed out, the Lakers could always beat the Spurs on Wednesday with Gregg Popovich resting his starters and make the win against the Jazz a moot point. Or the Boston Celtics could always beat the Washington Wizards in their last game and, coupled with a Lakers loss to San Antonio, create a coin-flip scenario to determine who gets the No. 5 position.

The logic will be lost on some fans, for sure. When things are as bad as they are right now for believers accustomed to championship or bust, they’ll latch on to whatever they can as an outlet for their frustrations. Plus, D’Antoni didn’t do himself any favors when he said earlier in the season that fans who were discouraged by the Lakers’ struggles should “find another team to root for.”

Combine all that with a less-than-ringing endorsement from Kobe Bryant and repeated head butts with Pau Gasol -- two guys who, unlike D’Antoni, have delivered titles to L.A. -- and it’s no surprise some of the faithful will choose to ignore that D’Antoni gets paid to win games, not to know about draft scenarios should the Lakers lose.

Besides, it’s called a “lottery” for a reason. Even if the Lakers finish with the sixth-worst record, it doesn’t mean they can’t vault into the top three when the pingpong balls are picked. It also doesn’t mean they’ll even get the sixth pick, because they could move down to a worse draft position with bad luck.

And no draft is the same. But it’s important to remember an example such as Damian Lillard going No. 6 to Portland in 2012 when Thomas Robinson went No. 5 to Sacramento. Of course, Chris Kaman was No. 6 in 2003 when Dwyane Wade was No. 5, too.

But the biggest takeaway from Monday shouldn’t be D’Antoni putting his foot in his mouth or the Lakers hurting their supposed chances in something that comes down to luck in the end, anyway.

It was about a Lakers team showing a shred of pride with last place in the Western Conference on the line.

“The basketball gods [made it happen],” Young said. “We needed a night like this. Just the energy. We came in here, we knew it was going to be a battle. It was a way to say, ‘Who wants to be the last-place team in the West?’

“And we went out there, we were making shots and jumping around as a team. We had fun together.”

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 119, Jazz 104

April, 14, 2014
4/14/14
8:32
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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SALT LAKE CITY -- Not that it should be much of a surprise by now, but the Los Angeles Lakers proved on Monday that they just couldn't get things right this season.

When they needed to win in the early part of the season, they were terrible at it, becoming the first team in the league to be eliminated from postseason contention with 16 games left to play.

When they needed to lose late in order to help their draft standing, they proved equally bad, pulling out spoiler wins against the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks to hurt those team's playoff chances.

Nothing summed up the backward season more than what happened in Salt Lake City, however. The Lakers were up against a Utah Jazz team they will be battling for ping-pong positioning next month and, all of the sudden, they looked like world beaters.

There was Nick Young making seemingly everything he put up there, setting a season high with 41 points.

There was Jordan Hill causing fans to once again scratch their heads and wonder why he ever fell out of the rotation, scoring 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

There was Jodie Meeks playing like the true professional he's groomed himself to be, dropping in 23 points of his own.

There was Kendall Marshall dishing out 15 assists and giving the team something to think about when it comes to making him an offer this offseason.

But through it all, there was the Lakers' draft chances for next season taking a hit, which is really what matters at this point.

How it happened: The Lakers fell down by as many as 13 points in the first half, but used a 19-2 run to close out the second quarter to take a 57-51 lead into intermission. The Jazz tied it back up 86-86 heading into the fourth. L.A. blew Utah's doors off in the final frame, with Young scoring 17 points in the quarter.

What it means: The Lakers promised they hadn't given up on things and were playing for each other, and for pride. Apparently they weren't lying.

Hits: The Lakers shot 54.9 percent as a team.

Misses: The Lakers' lottery positioning took a hit on Monday as L.A. could have vaulted below Utah to the No. 5 spot, but instead pretty much cemented its place at No. 6.

Stat of the game: 18. The Jazz had 18 turnovers leading to 29 points for the Lakers.

Up next: There's just one game left in this forgettable season for the Lakers. They travel to Texas to play the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday in a game where Gregg Popovich is sure to rest his key players -- with the No. 1 record in the league and home court throughout the playoffs already locked up for the silver and black.

Lakers look to be spoilers down the stretch

March, 31, 2014
3/31/14
12:23
AM PT
Buha By Jovan Buha
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Call them the “player-haters of the year.”

That’s the term Kendall Marshall used postgame after the Los Angeles Lakers reeled off another victory against a playoff hopeful on Sunday night, defeating the Phoenix Suns 115-99.

[+] EnlargeChris Kaman
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesKaman was unguardable against the Suns, even dishing out six assists to deflate Phoenix's playoff hopes.
They say misery loves company, and that’s exactly what the miserable Lakers want at this point -- to spoil other teams’ seasons and gain company at the bottom of the standings. With essentially nothing meaningful left to play for this season, Nick Young said they’ve found another motivating factor: hate.

The Lakers want their opponents to hate them. They want to knock postseason contenders down a peg or two in the standings, if not fall out of the playoff picture altogether. That, more than anything else, is their primary motivation for the rest of the season.

“We embrace trying to be the ‘player-haters of the year,’” Marshall said postgame. “We want to mess up seedings, keep teams out of the playoffs, and any type of motivation we can get to grow as a team is good for us right now.”

Prior to the game, coach Mike D’Antoni was asked if the Lakers reveled in their wins against playoff contenders such as the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks earlier this month.

Without hesitation, D’Antoni said it’s something Los Angeles has been focusing on and talking about recently.

“We want everybody to hate us by the end of the year,” D’Antoni said. “We did get New York and now we’re trying to get Phoenix and then we’ll try to give them a favor by getting Portland. We’ll have our chances, so hopefully we can do that.”

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Point guard problems persist for Lakers

March, 23, 2014
3/23/14
12:43
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McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- On Friday, everything seemed back in order for Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. Steve Nash was back on the court, running D'Antoni's offense that the two-time league MVP has more than of a decade of experience in orchestrating. Nash picked up 11 assists in 19 minutes, and while the Lakers still lost by 10 to the Washington Wizards, the team had a rhythm to its game that had been lacking in recent weeks.

Two days later, with Nash "doubtful" to play against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, according to D'Antoni, because of a tweaked right hamstring and nerve root irritation. Also, Xavier Henry, who had been providing a penetrator at backup point guard, is out because of a torn ligament in his left wrist.

"Two came back and two left," D'Antoni said, ruefully, of Nash and Henry after shootaround Sunday.

That leaves the Lakers back to one healthy point guard in Kendall Marshall, as a shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and a wing player in Kent Bazemore will be relied upon to handle the backup duties.

"Just figure it out. They’ll have to make plays. Got to share the ball. They’ll run our plays," D'Antoni said. "It won’t be a traditional point guard but that’s no reason why we can’t be good at it."

D'Antoni was trying to make the most of a bad hand, what other choice does he have? In actuality, he knows just how much the point guard position has shot his team in the foot this season.

"That’s probably one of the reasons why it’s hard to get traction, because they’re the heart and soul of your team and they’re kind of doing what you wanted to be done (on the court)," D'Antoni said. "We’ve never really had that from Steve Blake, first getting hurt then leaving, and then X (Henry) trying to fill in, Kobe (Bryant) not being there, Steve Nash not being there all year. So that’s probably been the hardest, most difficult thing.

"And it also affects the other players, their psyche and how they feel. It’s tough without a point guard."

If Nash sits against the Magic, it will be his 58th missed-game this season. It will be Henry's 29th. Before Blake was traded to the Golden State Warriors, he missed 26 games with an elbow injury. Sunday will mark Bryant's 63rd game missed, a number that will rise to 76 by the season's end as he's already been ruled out until 2014-15. And let's not forget Jordan Farmar, who has already missed 32 games and will be out for at least another week with a strained right groin.

The Lakers would be totally rudderless if not for Marshall, called up from the D-League in December and averaging 8.4 points and 9.2 assists on the season. But as solid of a pick-up as Marshall has proved to be, his game has its problems, evidenced by his scoring average dipping to 5.0 points on 31.3 percent shooting in his last 10 games.

"The league is dominated by really good point guards," D'Antoni said. "You got to have one."

The Lakers have had none for the bulk of the season. It shouldn't be surprising the predicament they find themselves in.

D'Antoni changes tune on Nash return

March, 19, 2014
3/19/14
9:46
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni opened the door for the chance that Steve Nash could return at some point this season after the veteran guard supposedly shut it down last week because of nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings.

"It's still a possibility," D'Antoni said Wednesday when asked if Nash could play at some point in the Lakers' final 15 games. "We have to see where he is physically. ... We'll have to see some practices and see how it goes."

The Lakers are down to one healthy point guard in Kendall Marshall, with Jordan Farmar out for a minimum of two weeks because of a strained right groin.

The 40-year-old Nash told Time Warner Cable SportsNet on Tuesday, "I feel pretty good. I feel as though I could play now at a good level. The question is could I sustain it?"

Nash has not played since Feb. 11 when he exited just before halftime against the Utah Jazz.

"We'll have to see," D'Antoni said. "Again, we’re just trying to get him totally healthy. You just don't want to send him out there and play him when he's not healthy. The last time we tried, if you remember, he didn't make it through a game. We can't have him start the game and then at halftime not be able to come out. We got to look and see and maybe try it in a couple practices and see if he can get 100 percent healthy, but right now he's not there."

The two-time league MVP has averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 assists in 10 games this season while shooting just 36 percent from the field and 31.6 percent on 3-pointers -- well below his career marks of 14.3 points, 8.5 assists, 49 percent shooting and 42.8 percent from deep.

Farmar has fared better, averaging 10.4 points and 4.7 assists, and shooting 45.7 percent from 3. However, like Nash, Farmar has missed many games this season -- 31 games and counting including Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs -- because of two separate tears in his right hamstring plus his strained groin.

"It's just been tough for him," D'Antoni said of Farmar. "Freaky stuff for him. He's played really well, trying to find his footing, coming back. We'll see if he can come back. Hopefully he can but that's not for sure. He's had a great year."

Rivalry a relative term in today's NBA

March, 7, 2014
3/07/14
10:38
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- On Thursday the Clippers beat the Lakers for the seventh time since Chris Paul's trade to the Lakers was vetoed by the league.

The nixed deal might be enough to make Lakers fans envious of Clippers fans (even though their team leads the Clips 16-0 in the championship department), but it's doubtful that it makes the players care any more or less.

While talk of a crosstown rivalry makes for a convenient story line, that's just not the reality of today's NBA.

Take the starting point guard match-up between the Lakers and Clippers, for instance.

Kendall Marshall, who went to University of North Carolina, has known fellow ACC product Chris Paul (Wake Forest) since playing in Paul's summer camp as a high schooler.

“He’s kind of been like a big brother to me, honestly,” Marshall said after Thursday's shootaround. "He’s a guy that I really look up to."

Hardly sounds like the stuff of two competitive rivals.

This isn't meant to pick on Marshall. His relationship with Paul is more the norm in the league than the exception. Just this week, Paul George, who lost to LeBron James in Game 7 of last season's Eastern Conference Finals and could very well meet James again in the playoffs this spring, said in an interview with BasketballInsiders.com that he would like to pick James' brain, even though the two must compete against one another.

"It would be great to be able to pick his brain, pick his mind and just talk about the game because I think he's a player that can help me get to the next level and continue to keep going to the next level," George said. "I wish some day we have that relationship where he is someone I can talk to -- not during the season because I'm too competitive during the season -- but maybe in the summertime."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said things have drastically changed from the time he retired in 1995-96 and the time when his son, Austin, became an NBA rookie in 2012-13.

"It’s a new league," Rivers said. "But I think it’s a new league because of the way they grow up now. We honestly didn’t know the opponent. We didn’t know guys on the other teams to the point where, when you went west, you literally hadn’t seen the team at all. Like, visually, at all if they hadn’t been on TV.

"And especially early in my career, there was no TNT so when you played [the] Sacramentos, that was literally the first time you’d ever seen them play and the first time you’ve ever been on the court with some of the guys. So, it’s a different league. AAU has changed that. I know from Austin, he knows everybody and it drives me crazy. But that’s just the way the league is. I don’t know what the team lines are any more in that regard. I don’t know. Don’t get me started. I just don’t know."

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni has seen some of the league's best players come together to share their tricks of the trade and bond towards a common goal with this time as an assistant coach for USA Basketball, so he sees the bright side of the interaction.

"I think it’s always been kind of a fraternity and when you’re in the offseason, I think everybody helps everybody," D'Antoni said. "Especially if they’re working out together in Vegas or wherever they’re working out -- back in Carolina. I think during the season they probably respect the lines, but in the offseason [that changes]. And it’s good. It’s good that the older players can show the younger players the ropes."

Rivers was not as keen on the apprenticeship aspect of young players learning from their opponents, but did say he liked the way that familiarity can breed contempt.

"The one thing you do know, the closer you are to somebody, the more you want to beat them," said Rivers. "It’s not the other way. So, I don’t think that will ever go away -- the competitiveness -- just because they fraternize. Being at Duke during the summer, I saw the Duke and Carolina guys playing in pick-up games all summer. And I always thought, well, that will make that [regular season in-conference] game even better now because they know each other a little bit more. They still don’t like each other and I think that’s all good."

Player movement can further complicate things. The Lakers have two former Clippers in Nick Young and Chris Kaman. The Clippers have one former Laker in Matt Barnes (two if you count Paul before the trade was revoked).

There's one aspect of the league-wide camaraderie that Rivers supports, actually. With L.A. such a popular offseason destination for so many NBA players, the Clippers smartly open the doors to their Playa Vista practice facility to any league guy who want to get a run in.

"I actually liked that because in the summers, I like to see guys playing," Rivers said. "Doesn’t have to be all my guys. I had everybody in the gym and I got to sit and watch. That’s not all bad."

The fact that the Clippers beat the Lakers by an average of 42 points in their last two meetings this season is bound to come up in one of those pick-up games this summer.

Marshall holds onto starting spot for now

March, 6, 2014
3/06/14
2:16
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- In an attempt to bust struggling Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall out of his slump, coach Mike D’Antoni said he will keep Marshall in the starting lineup when the Lakers host the Clippers on Thursday.

After the Lakers’ 132-125 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, a game in which Jordan Farmar had 20 points and eight assists in 26 minutes while starting the second half at point guard over Marshall, D’Antoni said he was considering a lineup change, but ultimately decided to stand pat.

“[Farmar] will probably finish the [Clippers] game, maybe, we’ll watch it,” D’Antoni said after shootaround Thursday. “But we’re good.”
Marshall has gone scoreless in four out of the Lakers’ last five games, going 3-for-24 (12.5 percent) overall during that span.

“He has to get out of his slump, mini-slump, and we think the best way to get out of it is to play out of it,” said D’Antoni. “You got to be careful with peoples’ egos. It’s a tough position anyway, and just because somebody is in a little bit of a slump you don’t want to exacerbate the problem. That’s one. And Kendall is good about distributing the ball, getting it up and throwing the ball up and getting everybody involved.”

Marshall was the last player on the Lakers’ practice court Thursday, getting up extra shot attempts.

“You miss shots,” Marshall said. “You can’t expect to shoot 100 percent all the time. It’s a part of the game. You’re going to miss shots, you’re going to go through a slump, but you got to find a way to get out of it.”

Marshall, who has averaged 9.4 points, 11.0 assists and 34.3 minutes in 24 games as a starter with L.A. and 7.2 points, 5.3 assists and 21.0 minutes in nine games off the bench, said that he tries not to worry about a starting role.

“It’s all about what you do when you’re on the court,” Marshall said. “Whether that’s six minutes, 20 minutes or 40 minutes, you got to make the most of that time. Jordan has been playing great for us, we’ve played well when he’s on the court and he’s a great teammate.”

Despite Marshall’s shot being off lately, he has still dished out double-digit assists in each of the last three games. It is a rare feat by the second-year player. While Marshall totaled zero points and 10-plus assists in two of the last three games, the rest of the league combined has just three games like that all season, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

“Obviously I’m still able to get my teammates involved,” Marshall said. “So, as long as I’m doing that, the scoring is a bonus. But the main thing for me, what I strive in, is getting teammates involved.”

Perhaps the matchup with the Clippers’ Chris Paul will motivate Marshall. Paul, who Marshall said was the best point guard in the league, has become a bit of a mentor to the fellow ACC product (Paul went to Wake Forest, Marshall went to North Carolina) and Marshall even participated in Paul’s camp when he was younger.

“He’s kind of been like a big brother to me, honestly,” Marshall said. “From my time late in high school to throughout college, he was always giving me a word of advice and this summer, even when I went through being waived and stuff, he was there talking to me and everything. So, he’s been great for me and he’s a guy that I really look up to.”

Paul has helped Marshall’s confidence grow during his unconventional path in the NBA, from being traded by the team that drafted him (Phoenix) after just one season, to being waived by the Washington Wizards to being called up from the Delaware 87ers of the D-League by the Lakers.

“Just telling me that I am a player in this league and guys are going to go through these types of things all the time,” Marshall said of Paul’s advice. “You just have to find a way to fight through it.”

If Marshall doesn’t retain his starting spot moving forward, he could soon find himself competing with Xavier Henry for back-up point guard minutes. Henry, back on the court this week for the first time since a bone bruise in his right knee sidelined him in late December, will get a chance to run point also.

“We could go bigger which helps a lot of the mismatches,” D’Antoni said. “Yes, it’s something we want to try. I don’t know if we’re quite ready yet. But it’s something we want to look at in the last 20 games.”

Hill out

Lakers forward Jordan Hill will not play against the Clippers and is considered day to day because of a sore right knee. Hill had already found himself out of D’Antoni’s rotation, collecting two straight Did Not Play – Coach’s Decisions in the Lakers’ last two games.

Jordan Farmar now comfortable in his role

March, 1, 2014
3/01/14
12:05
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- When Jordan Farmar left the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent close to four years ago, perhaps the biggest determining factor was him wanting to escape his lot as a young, up-and-coming point guard feeling stifled while having to play backup to the older, more established Derek Fisher.

With that in mind, it was awfully striking to hear Farmar's response Friday night after the six-year veteran scored a career-high 30 points in a 126-122 win over the Sacramento Kings when asked if he had any thought about continuing to play backup point guard for Lakers the second time around.

"I don't care," Farmar said. "I don't care, man. It's just trying to play good basketball when I'm in there, have fun with whoever is out there on the floor with me."

By Farmar, 27, accepting his role backing up the 22-year-old Kendall Marshall, not only is he helping out Marshall -- who is 1-for-15 from the field in his last four starts -- from losing whatever confidence he has left by being benched, he's thrusting the newly acquired MarShon Brooks into a thriving role.

[+] EnlargeJordan Farmar
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesLakers point guard Jordan Farmar enjoyed career highs with 30 points and eight 3-pointers against the Kings, all while making those around him shine.

Brooks scored 23 against the Kings, with 11 of those points coming in the fourth quarter when he and Farmar played all 12 minutes together in the backcourt to close out the game. Brooks finished the game 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, Farmar set a career high from deep by going 8-for-10, and the Lakers as a team set a franchise record for most 3s made in a regulation game, going 19-for-27 (70.4 percent).

"I like playing with MarShon," Farmar said. "I know he's a great kid. He can really play. I want to see him do well."

Maybe it's a little odd for Farmar to call someone only two years his junior a "kid." Then again, he and Brooks go back to when Farmar left L.A. for the grass-is-greener New Jersey Nets.

Farmar was in the process of starting all over. Brooks was just getting started in the NBA as a rookie.

When Brooks was traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Lakers at the deadline, he said his mind immediately thought of his former teammate, even though it was Kobe Bryant whom Brooks grew up modeling his game after.

"Right away," Brooks said when asked how long it took for it to dawn on him that he'd be reunited with Farmar. "Promise you, right away. Because it had nothing to do with basketball, really. It was just a good guy. We joked, played around even when we was on the Nets. He sat next to me on the plane. He was one of the guys I was close with."

Brooks said the two fell out of touch once Farmar went to play overseas in Israel and then Turkey, but he kept tabs on his old teammate by following him on Instagram.

Yet when they found themselves sharing a basketball court again?

"As soon as I seen him," Brooks said, "it's like we never left each other."

[+] EnlargeMarShon Brooks
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

MarShon Brooks and Farmar played together with the Nets and have combined again recently in the Lakers backcourt to fine levels of success.

Friday was the second straight game that the two fed off each other, coming a couple of nights after they combined for 30 points and six assists in Memphis as the Lakers nearly upset the Grizzlies on the road.

"He trusts me that I make the right play with the ball," Brooks said. "And that's the main thing from a point guard, just having that trust. Because he's running the show. When you get the ball as a shooting guard, he's like, 'OK, I'm going to give it to you. Don't settle. Make something happen.'

"And when you can trust the point guard, that's huge."

And as long as Farmar is taking care of Brooks, Brooks is taking care of Farmar.

"On the break, the first thing I'm looking for, I'm looking for Jordan and then I'm kind of looking for myself," Brooks said. "Especially if he's on that wing, or in that corner. He's pretty much wet."

With 23 games left in the season and 12 players on the team looking for new contracts, one could conceive that alliances are being formed like on an elimination-style reality show.

As if Farmar is looking out for Pau Gasol, the guy with whom he won two championships. Or he's looking out for his boyhood friend, Nick Young, if and when Young ever gets back on the court. And now he's looking out for Brooks, too, saving him a seat at the table.

But this seems more altruistic than that. Farmar is one of those guys facing free agency, but he is also taking his responsibility as a point guard to heart. Fundamentally, a point guard is supposed to put others' needs above his own.

"I think he's definitely a more mature point guard and player," Gasol said of the difference in Farmar now in his second stint with the team. "He's got great poise. Too bad that he had the hamstring issues this season, that it didn't really give him a lot of continuity, because I think it would have been great if he would have been able to stay healthy."

And there's the rub. You can't tell Farmar's story without mentioning that he has missed more than 30 games this season because of multiple tears in his left hamstring. He walked away from $3 million in guaranteed money overseas to slog through this season, too. Talk about adding insult to injury.

But he's doing his duty as a point guard. Eternally trying to spread some sunshine, even on a rainy night in downtown L.A.

"Just trying to have fun, man," Farmar said. "It's been a really tough year and trying to find some joy in the game and give us something to be proud and positive about -- and the fans, as well."

It might not have been the way he would have scripted it, but Farmar is finally becoming the player he left L.A. in the first place to become.

"We have a very young group, and he's not one of the young ones anymore," Gasol said. "So, he feels like being a point guard and being somewhat of a veteran; he feels comfortable to be able to speak up and the guys will listen."

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 126, Kings 122

February, 28, 2014
2/28/14
10:12
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- A common refrain from Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni this season has been that if his team spent half the amount of energy caring about its defense as it cared about its offense, it could end up being a half-decent team.

And even though D'Antoni's reputation in his decade-plus in the league with Denver, Phoenix, New York and now Los Angeles is that his mind works the same way -- prioritizing offense over defense -- the coach claimed when asked about his practice plans last week that 75 percent of the team sessions are spent on the defensive end.

Which brings us to Friday, where the Lakers faced an equally inept Sacramento Kings team that came into the night with 20 wins to L.A.'s 19. It was almost as if both teams gave one another a wink-wink before tipoff that defense never made an appearance at Staples Center.

What fans did witness was some entertaining basketball from two teams that came into the night a combined 37 games under .500, which should be considered an accomplishment in itself.

An evening that began with injured guard Nick Young ruminating about the state of his team stating, "Some games you see it and you feel like it’s all individuals," turned into a full-on display of L.A. clicking like clockwork on the offensive end.

Young wasn't the only one whose pregame disposition belied what was about to occur.

"I don’t think you’re ever as a coach you’re like, ‘Oh boy, we got all 15 guys really happy,'" D'Antoni said. "There’s always a couple guys that use the old, ‘I don’t know my role.’ Well, OK. That’s kind of a cop out. What do you mean you don’t know your role?

"You play hard and then when the coach tells you to go in, you go in. That’s your role."

And then the Lakers went out and seemingly every player was on a roll.

It was a good win for a team that needed something to feel good about.

How it happened: The Lakers closed the third quarter on a 16-6 run to cut an 11-point halftime deficit that had grown down to four. What was already a high-scoring night for both teams exploded in the third, when L.A. outscored Sacramento 41-34. The Lakers erased the rest of the Kings' cushion as they stayed hot with 31 points in the fourth to snap a three-game losing streak.

What it means: That halftime talk between Pau Gasol and Jordan Farmar in Memphis seems to have paid off. The former championship teammates led the way together against the Kings, with Farmar scoring a career-high 30 points and Gasol doing a bit of everything, with 22 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Now the question begs: Just how many of these final 23 games will the Lakers win if they keep it up?

Hits: Jodie Meeks scored 22 points on 8-for-8 shooting.

MarShon Brooks had 23 points off the bench, including a couple of banked-in layups in the game's final minutes to seal the deal.

Ryan Kelly only had five points in the scoring extravaganza but contributed a big block late, when Sacramento was threatening.

Wesley Johnson had 12 points and 12 rebounds as he continues to adapt to playing the stretch 4 role.

Kendall Marshall had 10 assists.

Misses: L.A. allowed the Kings to score 122 points. Can't ignore that.

The Lakers had 17 turnovers leading to 25 points for Sacramento.

Stat of the game: 8-for-10. That was Farmar's line from deep. His eight made 3-pointers also were a career high.

Up next: The Lakers have no games the rest of the weekend, gearing up for a pair of back-to-backs next week: Monday in Portland followed by Tuesday at home against New Orleans and then Thursday at home against the Clippers followed by Friday on the road in Denver.

Minor trade having major implications

February, 23, 2014
2/23/14
10:58
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- As far a blockbuster trades go, the Los Angeles Lakers deciding to swap Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors this week for two little-known bench players and save the team $4 million in salary and luxury tax fees barely made a blip on the radar.

But those little-known players, Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, are suddenly being played a lot and that seemingly minor deadline deal has the rest of the Lakers feeling out of whack.

[+] EnlargeNick Young
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty ImagesNick Young is one of several Lakers with a vested interest to get as much playing time as possible as the season winds down.
Nick Young made his comeback to the lineup in Sunday's 108-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets after missing the past six games because of a non-displaced fracture of the patella and a bone bruise in his left knee, and admitted that he may have rushed his return.

"They was actually telling me to wait until it's pain-free, but I just love the game of basketball and I want to get out there as fast as I can," Young said after putting up 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting in 20 minutes.

Young undoubtedly loves to play more than most in his sport, but his decision wasn't entirely altruistic. Young's contract expires at the end of the season and there will be money to be had on the free-agent market if he proves he can still play over this final stretch to the season.

To prove it, he'll need playing time, something he feared could be dwindling with Bazemore averaging 31 minutes in his first two games with L.A., Brooks averaging 21 minutes and Xavier Henry set to return in a week from the bone bruise in his right knee.

"When you see players out there -- like when we had four point guards -- you don't want to be lost in the shuffle," Young said. "I wanted to get back."

Young wanted to be back so bad that when he was re-examined this week by Lakers physician Steve Lombardo, he did not opt for an MRI exam on his knee as a final clearance.

"I'd rather not know it," Young said. "I told Doc I was ready."

While it has been a fairytale turn of events for Bazemore and Brooks to go from nightly DNPs to averaging 16 and 10.5 points, respectively, through their first two games with the purple and gold, it has been unsettling to the glut of wing players the Lakers already had on the roster.

(Read full post)

Lakers seek context for player evaluation

February, 22, 2014
2/22/14
12:29
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Pop quiz: How can a statistical line of five points, eight assists and one steal by a player be considered to be better than his previous game of 20, 16 and three?

According to Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, it's pretty easy to find the answer. Just look to see if the stats came in a win or a loss.

[+] EnlargeLos Angeles Lakers
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillNew additions Kent Bazemore, left, and MarShon Brooks made a good first impression, but their contributions the rest of the season will determine their future with the Lakers.
The stat lines just mentioned belong to Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall. The first set came in Friday's 101-92 win over the Boston Celtics, a game in which six Lakers scored in double digits and the team had some semblance of a normal rotation, with 10 healthy players suiting up and getting in the game.

The second came in Wednesday's 134-108 loss to the Houston Rockets, a game in which L.A. had only seven players available, and whatever good that came on offense was undone by all-out embarrassing defense that led to a franchise-worst eighth straight home loss.

Even though there was some joy and excitement in Staples Center for the first time in a long time Friday as the Lakers earned their first home win since Jan. 3 and swept the season series with the rival Celtics in the process, the reality is that even with the win, L.A. (19-36) is still 14th in the Western Conference, 13½ games out of a playoff spot with only 27 games left to play.

All the Lakers have left to play for this season is determining which players out of the 12 who have expiring contracts they will want to bring back for next season and beyond.

And while it's true the Lakers' chances of getting better positioning to add one player through the draft will be helped by losing, the best way the team will have a chance to properly determine what it has in those dozen other guys is to remain competitive.

"We also want to judge players around other good players. Especially like a Kendall Marshall," D'Antoni said, noting how important it was for the team to have Pau Gasol return from a groin injury Friday so it had a proper No. 1 option to revolve around. "And Pau will give that. So, you can judge players better instead of just putting stats up on a bad team. Anybody can do that. So, let's see if we can get some wins, see if we can get some traction, see if these guys can become winners, and then you can judge them a lot easier."

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Rapid Reaction: Rockets 134, Lakers 108

February, 19, 2014
2/19/14
10:14
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- The night started off with a raucous round of boos by the Los Angeles Lakers home crowd determined to let Dwight Howard hear it for his decision to skip town.

It ended with the hushed tones of fans' feet shuffling up the stairs, heading to the exits early after seeing their team lose for the 23rd time in the last 28 games overall, including eight straight at Staples Center -- an all-time low for the franchise.

Howard did his damage early, collecting eight of his 20 points in the first quarter -- six of them coming off three rim-rattling dunks -- as well as six of his 13 rebounds as the Rockets built a 10-point lead.

What was left of the crowd late in the fourth quarter started a "Howard sucks!" chant, but the former three-time defensive player of the year thwarted its effectiveness as if he were swatting away a weak layup attempt, mockingly joining in the heckle as teammates Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverley chuckled in delight.

If the boos didn't have any effect on Howard, they did even less to James Harden, who had what's becoming a typical line for him against the Lakers -- 29 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.

How it happened: The Rockets dominated from start to finish, leading by as many as 36 points at one point en route to their eighth straight win.

What it means: Howard's return to L.A. was overshadowed by the Lakers entering into the final 24 hours before Thursday's noon PT trade deadline and shipping Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors shortly before tip-off. Lakers fans are finished obsessing over last season's disappointment or fretting over this season's failures. It's all about the future now and what subsequent moves could be in store for Thursday.

Hits: Wesley Johnson scored 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting, marking the sixth time in his last seven games that he has scored 15 points or more.

In his first game back from a right ankle sprain, Jodie Meeks scored 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting.

Kendall Marshall had 20 points and 16 assists.

Misses: The Lakers had 20 turnovers leading to 26 points for the Rockets.

L.A. allowed Houston to shoot 18-for-35 from 3 (51.4 percent).

Stat of the game: 40. That's how many points Houston scored in the third quarter to break the game wide open.

Up next: The Lakers host the Boston Celtics on Friday in their first game after the trade deadline. Time will tell what the team looks like then.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.3