Davis focused on moving ahead with Lakers

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
2:39
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McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Ed Davis Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty ImagesEd Davis will switch to No. 21 when he joins the Lakers next season.


EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After turning down a contract extension offer from the Memphis Grizzlies last fall worth north of $20 million, according to multiple league sources, Ed Davis said he was comfortable with how everything played out after signing a two-year, $2 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

“No regrets at all,” Davis said during his introductory news conference. “Everything happens for a reason. I’m not trying to sound cliché, but just looking forward to this opportunity here with this great franchise and just being able to contribute every night.”

Davis, 25, is one of five new players the Lakers have acquired since their miserable 27-55 season ended in April. While he comes to the Lakers at a relatively bargain $1 million annual price tag, Davis has a player option for the second year of his deal and could test the market looking for a more lucrative offer should he put up big numbers in L.A. next season, similar to what Nick Young and Jodie Meeks accomplished this summer.

“As you know we’re working on completion of our roster and we feel we’ve made significant improvements and changes and we’re happy to add a young player with a very promising future who is going to continue to work and develop in this league in Ed Davis,” said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak before presenting Davis with his No. 21 uniform.

Davis, who wore No. 32 for the Toronto Raptors and the Grizzlies, had to choose No. 21, the number he wore in ninth grade, because No. 32 is retired by the Lakers for Magic Johnson.

The real number Davis is concerned about is how many minutes he will be able to play in L.A. After seeing his career start to blossom during the first half of the 2012-13 season for Toronto -- averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game -- he saw his playing time dip to the 15-minute range in the last season and a half after being traded to Memphis.

“Obviously it’s a great organization, franchise, a lot of history here,” Davis said. “And it’s a young team. I think it’s an opportunity where I can play and help this team win.”

Davis played behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in Memphis and now will likely play backup minutes to Lakers rookie Julius Randle, who has drawn comparisons to Randolph already.

“I think he’s going to be a real good player in this league,” Davis said of Randle. “He kind of reminded me of Zebo a little bit, but he puts it on the floor a little bit better than Zebo.”

He’ll also have competition in the frontcourt in L.A. outside of Randle, with the Lakers re-signing Jordan Hill, winning an amnesty waiver bid on Carlos Boozer and retaining Robert Sacre.

Davis, at 6-10 and 225 pounds, says he brings versatility to the court.

“I think I can play both positions, the four and the five,” Davis said. “I think all the players here are different players and we all complement each other in different ways.”

While Davis hopes to have a breakout season to establish his footing in the league, he said the Lakers did not try to lure him with any promise of guaranteed playing time.

“Not at all,” Davis said. “I think it’s tough to say that without a coach. But I’m just going to work in training camp and earn everything, so, I’m going to be ready.”

The Lakers continue to operate without a head coach in place, nearing the three-month mark since Mike D’Antoni resigned. Kupchak elusively made his way out of the press room immediately after introducing Davis on Wednesday, perhaps to avoid any questions that would come his way concerning the coaching search.

No matter whom it is the Lakers hire, Davis should be able to adapt. He has already played for four coaches in his four seasons in the league -- Jay Triano and Dwane Casey in Toronto and Lionel Hollins and Dave Joerger in Memphis -- and coming to L.A. will guarantee a fifth coach in five seasons.

“It’s going to be my fifth coach this year, but I think the NBA game is pretty much the same, it uses the same terms,” Davis said. “All the coaches use the same terms. But it’s just figuring out what the coaches like every year. They all have their own schemes and stuff like that.”

For any new player coming into L.A., Kobe Bryant figures to be just as influential as the coach to their transition.
Davis shares the same agent as Bryant in Rob Pelinka and has already spoken to the veteran shooting guard over the phone about coming to the Lakers. What did Bryant say to him?

“A couple things,” Davis said. “Keep it private.”

Davis knows that with such an intense media focus coupled with extreme fan expectations in L.A., few things are truly kept private, however. He said there was a similar atmosphere at the University of North Carolina, where he won a championship as a freshman in 2009.

“It definitely motivates you,” Davis said. “Like Carolina and here, they hold you to high expectations. They want to win no matter what, no matter what the situation is. So, it does motivate you in the summertime and it’s a good thing to have that support, to have the big fan base.”

If Davis accomplishes what he is setting out to in L.A. -- protecting the rim on defense, playing multiple positions on the frontline and improving as a player -- those Laker fans will adopt him real quick.

“I feel over these past four years I got a lot stronger,” Davis said. “I grew a lot mentally, just understanding the game because it is a big leap from college to the pros. Then I just feel like I’m going to keep working every day and just continue to build my game and just get better.”
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Nick Young, Ryan Kelly sign with L.A.

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
6:08
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[+] EnlargeNick Young
Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsThe Lakers officially signed Nick Young to a four-year, $21.5 million deal on Monday.

The Los Angeles Lakers took care of some unfinished business on Monday, officially signing both Nick Young and Ryan Kelly to contract extensions.

The signings were merely a formality, as the team had already reached agreements with both Young and Kelly in the last several weeks while general manager Mitch Kupchak attempted to fill out the roster for next season through free agency.

"When Nick became a free agent in June, I expressed hope that we would be able to bring him back on a contract that was in the best interest of both the Lakers and himself, and I am proud to say we were able to do so," Kupchak said in a statement. "Nick was a bright spot for us last season, and we are happy to retain such a skilled player who is committed to being a part of what we are building as a franchise."

Young signed a four-year, $21.5 million deal with a player option on the fourth year. The Lakers used part of their "room exception" to sign Kelly to a two-year deal worth approximately $3.5 million. The new contracts represent a nice raise for both Young and Kelly who made approximately $1.2 million and $500,000, respectively, while with the Lakers last season.


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Michael Cooper has tongue cancer

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
1:33
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ATLANTA -- Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper has early-stage tongue cancer and has taken a leave from the WNBA team.

Cooper will have surgery this week at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta, and a full recovery is expected, the Dream said Monday.

The 58-year-old coach is expected to miss about two weeks, with assistant coach Karleen Thompson filling in. Atlanta plays at Minnesota on Tuesday.

"I'm fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection," Cooper said. "I know the team will be in good hands with Coach Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon."

Cooper is in his first season with Atlanta. His team leads the Eastern Conference with a 15-6 record. He coached the East to a 125-124 overtime victory at the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday.

Cooper won five NBA titles as a shooting guard with the Los Angeles Lakers during the "Showtime" era from 1978-90. As a coach, he won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks and one NBA Development League championship with Albuquerque.

After his second run with the Sparks, Cooper was hired as the women's coach at USC. He resigned in March after an 11-20 season, his first losing mark in four seasons.


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Bucks get Kendall Marshall's contract

July, 20, 2014
Jul 20
4:49
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MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Bucks have been awarded the contract of Kendall Marshall, the second-year guard who was waived last week by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Marshall appeared in 54 games for the Lakers last season, averaging 8.0 points, 8.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. He shot 39.9 percent from 3-point range.

He'll be reunited in Milwaukee with Bucks forward John Henson, his teammate at the University of North Carolina.

Phoenix drafted Marshall with the 13th pick in the 2012 draft.

He was traded to Washington with Marcin Gortat and two other players for Emeka Okafor and a draft pick. The Wizards waived him, and he played seven games in the NBA D-League before the Lakers called him up.


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Kobe Bryant is documentary subject

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
5:05
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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant says he's "scared'' about his future after basketball, although he's embracing the challenge of finding something that he can be as passionate about as sports.

Bryant turns 36 next month and is under contract with the Los Angeles Lakers for two more years. He was limited to just six games last season because of two major leg injuries, leaving him with the kind of idle time he never had before in his career.

Bryant gives a peek into his life in a Showtime documentary airing in November. "Kobe Bryant's Muse'' covers much of last season, when Bryant was sidelined and the Lakers finished 27-55, the most losses in club history.

"It's a fascinating time to be around this guy,'' said Gotham Chopra, who directed the film. "There's this sort of looking forward to life after basketball. This is a guy that's asking a lot of questions.''

The unexpected time off last season forced Bryant to think about his post-basketball future.

"I'm afraid, too,'' he said Friday at the summer TV critics' meeting. "You really have to lean on muses and mentors going forward, just as I did as a kid. It's about having that next wave of things, which is scary as hell, but it's fun at the same time.''

Bryant said this film is different than the 2009 ESPN documentary "Kobe Doin' Work,'' which was directed by Spike Lee. The new film includes Magic Johnson and former Lakers coach and current Knicks president Phil Jackson.

"It's more introspective,'' he said. "It's about who or what has inspired me.''

Bryant is credited as an executive producer on the Showtime film, a vanity credit only.

"I'm not even quite sure what it is they do,'' he said.

He arrived 30 minutes late for his session with critics.


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Thibs: Boozer good fit with Lakers

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
5:39
PM PT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau believes Carlos Boozer will be a good fit for the Los Angeles Lakers this season.

Boozer was claimed off waivers by the Lakers on Thursday. The final year of Boozer's deal was amnestied by the Bulls on Tuesday.

"When you look at four years and you win 200 games, he did a terrific job for us," Thibodeau said Friday. "Carlos has had a great career, he did his job here, and we wish him nothing but the best. I think the Lakers, I think that will be a good fit for him. But he did a great job for us."

Boozer averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds last season for the Bulls.

Pau Gasol: Kobe Bryant understood

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
3:21
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[+] EnlargePau Gasol
David Banks/USA TODAY Sports"It was difficult to talk to [Kobe], but he was very supportive and he understood," Pau Gasol said. "He just said I had to do what was best for me and what felt right for me and he was going to support me no matter what."

Pau Gasol officially said goodbye to 6½ years with the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday as he was welcomed to the Chicago Bulls during his introductory news conference.

But before he could totally turn the page, Gasol reflected on what it was like to bid farewell to one certain former Lakers teammate: Kobe Bryant.

"It was difficult," Gasol told reporters when asked about informing Bryant of his decision to sign with the Bulls. "We have a close friendship. We've been through a lot together, and I'm sure I will miss him. But we talked to each other and our relationship goes beyond basketball and we'll always have a friendship.

"It was difficult to talk to him, but he was very supportive and he understood. He just said I had to do what was best for me and what felt right for me and he was going to support me no matter what. That's what friends and brothers do, and that's what we are."


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Xavier Henry, Lakers have 1-year deal

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
11:11
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers have reached an agreement to retain free-agent swingman Xavier Henry, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday.

Henry, 23, will sign a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum, worth $1,063,384, according to the source.

He took to Twitter to announce the news.

After being drafted No. 12 in 2010 by Memphis, Henry has played for three teams in his four seasons in the NBA.

The Lakers experimented a bit with their roster last season by bringing in several former lottery picks on one-year deals in hopes of realizing the potential they showed leading up to the draft, and Henry panned out.

He averaged career highs in points (10.0), rebounds (2.7), assists (1.2), steals (1.0) and minutes (21.1) per game -- all while shooting a career-best 41.7 percent from the field in 43 games (making five starts) -- before having his season cut short because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, and a bone bruise and abnormality of the meniscus in his right knee.

Henry underwent a pair of surgeries to correct both injuries, and he rehabbed in Los Angeles with the Lakers' training staff this offseason before being offered the new deal.


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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0