Mark Willard and Arash Markazi give their thoughts on Kobe Bryant not on the Lakers bench with teammates for the last three months of the season.

Mark Willard and Arash Markazi discuss if Mike D'Antoni deserves a chance to finish out his contract with the Lakers.

Rick Adelman, Wolves face decision

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the clock ticks down on the Minnesota Timberwolves' regular season finale on Wednesday night, one of the most quietly successful coaching careers the NBA has ever seen could be coming to a close right with it.

Over the past quarter century, Rick Adelman has won more than 1,000 games, developed an innovative offense that influences everyone from Gregg Popovich to Erik Spoelstra and developed a reputation as a master of exploiting opponents' weaknesses while maximizing the talents on his own roster.

But as his 23rd season draws to a close, it does so with everyone involved -- a coach who wanted to make one last playoff push, a franchise hoping to convince its star player not to abandon it, a fan base worn down by mediocrity -- left wanting more.

The "coaching lifer," as Popovich describes Adelman, who has always been able to come up with right answers to basketball problems has been frustrated like never before by an inability to squeeze more out of a talented but flawed team.

"This year it just seems like we have a good game, and then it could be from one half to the next half," Adelman said recently.

"That's been the hard part, trusting what's going to come. It's just been a very difficult year. I don't think I've ever really experienced (this)."

Adelman's contract has a mutual option included for the final season, meaning either side can opt out of the deal. Adelman will turn 68 in June and the contract calls for a decision to be made no later than two weeks after the season ends.

(Read full post)


Max Kellerman, Marcellus Wiley and Michelle Beadle debate whether Lakers fans should be upset that Mike D'Antoni led the Lakers to a win over the Jazz, hurting the team's chances to get a better pick in the draft lottery.

Luol Deng wins citizenship award

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Luol Deng has never once forgotten home.

He has spent much of his adult life trying to give back to his native South Sudan, the war-torn African nation the Cavaliers forward and his family fled when he was a young boy.

And while Deng's contributions have touched many, he knows the work will never end.

"I wish I could wake up tomorrow and nobody needs help," Deng said. "But we all know that's not going to happen. I'm just happy to be in the position that I'm in to be able to do the things that I'm able to do."

On Tuesday, Deng was commended for his compassion and dedication when he was named the winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, given annually to an NBA player, coach or trainer for outstanding community service.

Deng has had a long commitment to philanthropic work in South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011 but has been ravaged by ethnic violence. The two-time All-Star, who came to Cleveland in a trade from Chicago in January, recently recorded a public service announcement for, urging peace in his homeland.

In a video directed at the nation's youth, Deng says, "Look around you, and reach out. Make peace among those who are fighting. Forgive one another and encourage others to forgive. Build trust with people who fear each other. You are young, and if you are wise, you will build bridges with people your age that will last a lifetime."

The video is a small sample of Deng's attempts to help others.

The 29-year-old also has established The Luol Deng Foundation, a global nonprofit organization using basketball as a platform to bring hope to those less fortunate in Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. His work in Africa has focused on the construction of outdoor courts and initiatives to bring together local communities.

(Read full post)

Despite victory, D'Antoni won't win fans

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
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.”

SALT LAKE CITY -- Nick Young scored a season-high 41 points and helped the Los Angeles Lakers snap a seven-game losing streak with a 119-104 victory against the Utah Jazz on Monday night.

Jodie Meeks had 23 points and Jordan Hill added 21 for Lakers, who had only eight healthy players.

Alec Burks scored 22 points and Gordon Hayward had 21 points for Utah. Enes Kanter had 19 points and 12 rebounds and Trey Burke chipped in 17 for the Jazz, who have lost 10 of 11 games.

The game was tied at 86 after the third quarter, and then the Lakers found their range. Los Angeles outscored the Jazz 33-18 and the Utah players heard a mix of cheers and boos as the clock expired in their last home game of the season.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 119, Jazz 104

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin

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.

D'Antoni taking time for season summation

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
SALT LAKE CITY -- The Los Angeles Lakers came into Monday's game against the Utah Jazz sporting an 0-7 record in the month of April and riding a slump that has accounted for nine losses in their past 10 games overall.

With such a precipitous slide seemingly impossible to reverse this late in the season, one could hardly blame Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni if he chose to hit the ejection seat on the season with two games left to go.

[+] EnlargeKendall Marshall and Mike D'Antoni
Russ Isabella/USA TODAY SportsDon't expect coach Mike D'Antoni to offer his overview of the 2013-14 Lakers or thoughts on job security until after Wednesday's season finale.
However, no matter how meaningless the Lakers' (25-56) game against Utah (24-56) was, other than in the context of draft lottery positioning implications, D'Antoni swore his group was still engaged.

"We want to win," D'Antoni said before the game. "It would be unprofessional not to try to do it. That’s not right for these guys. We want to compete. Hopefully we can get it."

Keeping that mindset, D'Antoni refused to offer a final evaluation on the season or reveal his thoughts about his job security for next season until Monday's game against Utah and Wednesday's game against San Antonio were in the books.

"Thursday, we got exit meetings," D'Antoni said, not extending his offseason thoughts past the middle of this week. "So, there you go, I’m to Thursday. Then I’ve got Easter coming up. I’m going to do that. Then after that, I don’t know, guys. We’ll see what happens."

D'Antoni has one year remaining on his contract with the Lakers, set to pay him $4 million. The Lakers have a team option on D'Antoni for the following season, as well.

While D'Antoni's coaching seat has gotten a little warm over the past several months, he still has more security than most of his players. Eleven of the 15 players on the Lakers' roster are on expiring deals. Nick Young is likely to opt out of his $1.2 million deal for next season, which would bring L.A.'s free agent pool up to a dozen.

"It’s our jobs just to play as hard as we can, as long as we can and finish the year off," D'Antoni said. "Come September, I don’t think that’s going to make a whole big difference when you have a new team out there. But it makes a big difference to that individual guy and you can read into how they are. If they can’t find energy or find the will to play now, why would they do it later on?"

Even though D'Antoni took a positive outlook when claiming there's still something left to play for, he admitted the reality that no one on the Lakers should feel too accomplished for what they have done this season.

"I don’t think there’s any credit to be given," D'Antoni said. "We’ve only won 25 games, so you can’t give credit. Guys have been working hard. OK, you can [note] that. Some of them have gotten better. Yeah, OK. But there’s no credit to being in a bad season.

"Now, having said that, I think some guys have stepped up. They’ve been put in a horrific situation that for a lot of them, there’s just no solution. They’ve been put into roles that are not right for them. I think they’ve responded as well as they could, but I think a lot of them have tried to do their job as best they can."

D'Antoni tried to maintain a cheery front, but there's no denying the season has taken a toll on him as well.

When asked if he could focus on any of the little victories the Lakers had achieved this season for solace, he responded, flatly, "No."

When asked if he has taken up any off-court activities this season as an escape to protect his sanity amid all the losses, he replied, "What sanity?"

When asked if it was better to finish off a rough season like this on the road rather than at home, D'Antoni corrected the reporter: "A season like this? I think you have the question all wrong. It’s better to finish."

While the record books will show the 2013-14 Lakers as the worst team in the 66-year history of the franchise, D'Antoni is reserving judgment.

"Again guys, I sound like a broken record, but these guys are good guys," D'Antoni said. "We just come to work every day. We try to do our best. We try to give them the best that we can give them. Don’t worry about the noise. It is what it is and go through it and try to get to the next layer. It’s our job to do that. It’s their job to play as hard as they can.

"Our job is to coach as hard as we can and then at the end, it’s just, ‘OK, it went that way.’ And you pick it up or you move on or you do something. But the assessment comes after the fact, not now."

Kent Bazemore schedules right-foot surgery

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
SALT LAKE CITY -- After visiting with foot specialist Dr. Kenneth Hunt of Stanford University on Monday, it was determined Los Angeles Lakers guard Kent Bazemore will require surgery on the torn tendon in his right foot, according to a team spokesman.

Bazemore, who is not with the Lakers on their final two-game road trip, will undergo the surgery on Wednesday at Stanford University Medical Center.

[+] EnlargeKent Bazemore
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images Surgery is slated Wednesday to correct the torn tendon in Kent Bazemore's right foot. He should be fully recovered by June.
The second-year veteran is expected to be fully recovered from the surgery by June, according to a league source.

Bazemore has missed the Lakers' past four games after falling to the floor in the second quarter of a 120-97 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, saying after the game that he "felt a pop" in his right foot.

The 6-foot-5, 201-pound swingman classified it as an "overuse injury."

Bazemore averaged 28 minutes per game in 23 appearances with the Lakers after being acquired from the Golden State Warriors at the trade deadline in a deal for Steve Blake. He had been playing only 6.1 minutes per game with Golden State.

He made the most of his opportunity with the Lakers, averaging 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals.

Bazemore is set to become a free agent this summer, however the Lakers can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $1.1 million qualifying offer.

Bazemore is one of four Lakers players -- along with Kobe Bryant (left knee), Pau Gasol (vertigo) and Xavier Henry (left wrist and right knee) -- to have his season prematurely shut down because of injuries.

That number could rise to six as Steve Nash (hamstring) missed his third straight game Monday and Chris Kaman (right calf strain) missed his seventh straight game.

"Not tonight, but we still got one more," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of Nash and Kaman's availability before the Lakers' game against the Utah Jazz on Monday. "I doubt it. I would say I don’t think so."

The Lakers finish out the season Wednesday at the San Antonio Spurs.

Andrew Bogut out with rib fracture

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The playoffs have not even begun and the Golden State Warriors are already dealing with a big blow to their postseason chances.

The Warriors announced Monday night that an X-ray on center Andrew Bogut revealed a fractured right rib. The injury could keep him out for the start of the playoffs -- and possibly all of the postseason.

Warriors coach Mark Jackson and Bogut both said that he's out indefinitely and gave no timetable for his return. But speaking in a somber tone in his corner of the locker room, Bogut said he has done enough research and spoken to enough doctors that he will not come back until the rib heals, which typically takes at least six weeks.

"I've got to be careful, because if it cracks I'm looking at a punctured lung. You'll see me in the hospital with a tube coming out of me," Bogut said. "It's one of those things people have played through, but this is too close to comfort for me."

Bogut said he first felt the injury when Denver's Kenneth Faried elbowed him in a loss to the Nuggets last Thursday. The symptoms continued against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, he said, and he took a pain-killing injection before playing at Portland on Sunday night.

Bogut left the overtime loss to the Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter after getting sandwiched by two players. He said he can't take deep breaths and is pain anytime he coughs or sneezes -- let alone tries to run.

"It definitely wasn't as bad until I fully cracked it," Bogut said. "I thought I was winded for a second, but it wasn't going away. I ended up going back in the game for the last possession (of regulation). I don't know how."

(Read full post)

Pau Gasol's final scene in Lakerland?

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
Adande By J.A. Adande
LOS ANGELES -- Pau Gasol looked out onto the court, where the team from his past played the team of his present, then looked up to the scoreboard, where the clock ticked down toward the start of his future.

The Memphis Grizzlies, Gasol’s team from draft night in 2001 until the 2008 trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers, were finalizing the Lakers’ 55th loss of the season. Same old story for the Lakers: hang tight for a half, lose by double digits. And a frustratingly frequent tale for Gasol: sidelined by injury, missing his 20th game and counting, with a bout of vertigo guaranteed to keep him sidelined for the Lakers’ two remaining games on the road.

He’ll be a free agent this summer, which means this might have been his last home game at Staples Center. It certainly meant he felt the emotional impact. As the game drew to a close he reached toward the seat to his right and tapped teammate Jordan Farmar’s leg to signal that it was time for them to leave. Except Gasol wasn’t really ready to leave. He congratulated his brother, Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, then playfully shoved Marc away so he wouldn’t sweat on Pau’s nice, movie-ticket-taker- burgundy red jacket. He moved on to other players and coaches, stopped to talk to a couple of fans, then chatted with courtside regulars Jimmy Goldstein and Dyan Cannon.
[+] EnlargeMarc Gasol
Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsMarc and Pau Gasol, the brothers who were traded for each other in 2008, greet each other Sunday.

He stopped and signed autographs for fans on the other side of the courtside seats. He leaned in behind a woman who took a selfie with her phone. He entered the tunnel and accommodated more fans who reached through the rails to have him sign programs, hats, tickets and -- just when he was ready to cut things off -- a fan who dangled a No. 16 Gasol golden Lakers jersey.

Finally he said no mas.

“I gotta go in,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

He blew the fans a kiss with both hands, bowed and moved on to the Lakers' locker room.

“I always appreciate the fans,” Gasol said. “You never know. The last couple years when I walked out of this building it’s been emotional. This year it’s been a little bit different because we haven’t been successful as a team, we had a lot of injuries, I haven’t been able to finish the season playing. So I kind of had it more in my mind.

“The last couple of years I didn’t know if I was going to be back. This year with even more reason, because now I’m a free agent. It’s just a way of me appreciating everyone and our fans.”

The fans showed their appreciation, giving him a warm cheer when he was showed on the scoreboard video screen late in the game. Will the Lakers do anything similar -- something along the lines of the golden parachute they granted Kobe Bryant? The Kobe contract might actually preclude a Gasol gift by eating up too much salary cap room. Gasol can’t expect to match the $19 million he made this season; he might get about half of that, from what some general managers say. It's also possible that the Lakers could sign him to a short deal that would give them the possibility of using him as a trade asset next season.

But a multi-year contract would alter any Lakers plans to make a big splash in the 2015 free agent market -- or even to bring in the additional pieces the Lakers would need around Bryant and Gasol.

That’s why Sunday was the night for sentiment. Come July 1 it will be all business.

“You’ve got to put heart and emotions aside a little bit and think what’s going to be the best position for me to succeed, not just individually but collectively,” Gasol said. “And hopefully help put myself in a position where I can win a championship. That will be the goal. Where can I win and where can I be a key piece to help a team win, whether it’s here or another team? I don’t know exactly what’s going to be the structure or the roster [with the Lakers], so there’s going to be a lot of question marks here. But I’m open to listen. I’m a good listener. I will listen to what’s offered.”

Then there’s the possibility of playing with his brother in Memphis.

“It’s appealing,” Gasol said. “We have a lof of fun always in the summers [playing together with the Spanish national team]. But I don’t know if it’s going to be completely 100 percent up to me, because there’s going to be a lot of teams that are going to be probably limited or conditioned to a trade, and the Lakers will probably have some say in that. We’ll see. It’ll be an interesting process. I don’t know if the Grizzlies are one of the teams that are most interested.

“I’d love to play with Kobe more, because he’s a friend, he’s a winner and he’s a guy that I’ve been through a lot and won championships with. I would love to play with my brother, but you can’t have everything. Just try to think where is the best position for me to succeed collectively and individually.”

Time passes so quickly in the NBA, turning from ally to enemy. Gasol made the Lakers championships contenders when he arrived in February of 2008, and they were on their way to three consecutive NBA Finals. In April of 2014, the only player in uniform who was around for that heyday was Farmar. It’s no accident that he was sitting next to Gasol.

“[The bond is] even sweeter for us because we lost one [NBA Finals] first,” Farmar said. “ We got all the way there, we lost, and then we learned as a group and came back to win back-to-backs. So we’re a little closer. It’s a little more special. It’s experiences you can’t really teach. You just have to go through it and know what it takes. It’s hard to pass that knowledge on to young guys. There’s just no way they can understand the dynamics of a championship team unless you’re on that caliber of a team.”

You can see why playing for another team consisting primarily of those young players wouldn’t appeal to Gasol at age 33. You also can see how a 33-year-old who has missed 53 games over the past two seasons with injuries stretching literally from his feet (plantar fasciitis) to his head (vertigo) might not have GMs filling his voicemail inbox this summer. But he’s still an experienced big man who averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds this season.

“In this league, no one person can do it by themselves,” Farmar said. “You need to put a team together of guys that understand the importance of winning,
that are committed to it and fit well together. I think that’s what it comes down to. The front office knows that. I think Pau, whether it’s here or someplace else, will be on a team like that.”

For the past three seasons we’ve wondered if the Lakers would send him someplace else before the trade deadline. Now it could be of his own volition. That’s why this wasn’t just another night in Staples Center, the building where the two most recent Lakers championship banners hang as a result of his handiwork.

Lakers' last home game an unsatisfying ending

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13
Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne
LOS ANGELES -- There aren’t many in the Los Angeles Lakers organization who have been through anything like this miserable season. The losing, the injuries, the utter lack of meaning in most of the games in the final few months of what will go down as the worst season in Lakers history.

[+] EnlargeMike D'Antoni
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillMike D'Antoni's future with the Lakers is just one of several unknowns facing the team next season.
So when the Lakers played their final game at Staples Center on Sunday night, it was hard to know how to act or what to do next.

Some fans lingered in the stands well after the final buzzer, when you’d expect them to have bolted early in the fourth quarter once the Grizzlies took a commanding lead. Were they still processing it all? Or just trying to get a little more bang for their buck?

Pau Gasol stayed on the court signing autographs for fans waiting for him in the tunnel. If this was his last appearance in Los Angeles as a member of the Lakers, he at least wanted to let the fans know he was grateful for everything.

As they met in the locker room for perhaps the last time, Jodie Meeks turned to reserve point guard Jordan Farmar and asked if the equipment staff would collect their personal belongings from their lockers before everyone headed home for the summer. He asked Farmar ostensibly because this is his second stint with the Lakers and maybe he knew from experience.

One problem: The last time Farmar ended a season with the Lakers, they were busy winning a championship.

“I said, ‘I don’t know. I’ve never been in this position before,’” Farmar said.

No one has. No one with the Lakers, that is. The last time the franchise missed the playoffs was in 2005, the first year after they traded Shaquille O’Neal to Miami. But as ugly as that season was, it was never as desperate or disheartening as this one.

Kobe Bryant was still a young man in 2005 and you had a sense that the Lakers would be able to find a co-star to play alongside him in short order. Plus, they had talented young players like Lamar Odom and Caron Butler to build around, too.

(Read full post)

Just lotto left for biggest losers

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13

Well, here we are. With just one or two games left to play for each team, the season is almost over for the league's cellar dwellers.

No playoffs. Just a long wait until May 20, the night of the NBA Draft Lottery.

All season we've been chronicling the ups and downs of the race to the bottom. Some teams, such as the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic, started down this road deliberately. Others, such as the Milwaukee Bucks, were decimated by injuries that eventually led them down the path to tanking. Meanwhile, for teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons, this was supposed to be the year they made it back to the playoffs, but, alas, they just didn't have the talent.

Let's take a look back at how the 10 worst teams in the NBA got here and what it will mean to them going forward.

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Rapid Reaction: Grizzlies 102, Lakers 90

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13
Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne

LOS ANGELES -- It only felt like the Los Angeles Lakers' season ended a long time ago. Sunday it finally did for the home crowd, anyway.

The team has two more meaningless games to play against Utah and San Antonio. But the curtain on the worst season since the Lakers moved to Los Angeles came down with a whimper Sunday night in a lethargic 102-90 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

It was the Lakers' final home game of the season and about the only bright spots on the night were the rousing national anthem performed by die-hard Lakers fan and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitar player Flea, and the sight of future lottery pick Joel Embiid sitting courtside across from the Lakers' bench. Both stayed until the bitter end of the game along with many Lakers fans, perhaps not quite ready to let this awful season go.

Those who stayed until the end gave two-time champion Pau Gasol a nice ovation late in the fourth quarter of what could’ve been his last appearance as a Laker. Gasol, who will be a free agent this summer, has been ruled out for the rest of the season with vertigo.

How it happened: The Lakers kept things close in the first half but gave up 34 points in the third quarter to fall irrevocably behind. Memphis had to win Sunday to keep its pole position over the Phoenix Suns in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and it played like it.

What it means: The Grizzlies head to Phoenix on Monday with a chance to clinch a playoff berth. The Lakers head out on the road to Utah and San Antonio to play out the string. Only the race with Boston, Utah and Sacramento for the fourth-worst record still matters for LA.

Hits: Nick Young and Jodie Meeks have been the Lakers' steadiest performers this season, and they were again in the last look many fans will give to this team. Young finished with 14 points off the bench while Meeks had 20. Wes Johnson (15 points, 15 rebounds) and Jordan Hill (10 points, 10 rebounds) each had a double-double.

Misses: Gasol was in attendance Sunday and will travel with the team on its final two-game road trip, but he could have already played his final game for the Lakers if he leaves as a free agent.

Stat of the game: The Grizzlies outrebound most teams they play with burly Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph controlling the paint, but even so, you don’t often see margins like they put up Sunday. Memphis outrebounded the Lakers 52-32.

Up next: The Lakers close the season out on the road against Utah on Monday night and San Antonio on Wednesday. The Grizzlies head to Phoenix Monday and Dallas on Wednesday to settle the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.



Nick Young
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5