Shootaround (May 26) -- Lonzo Ball reportedly mulling workout with Philadelphia 76ers
Plus, the Celtics try to figure out their next move to rise in the East and more from around the NBA
Report: Ball workout for Sixers possible — Celtics boss Danny Ainge said in a radio show interview yesterday that prospective No. 1 overall pick Lonzo Ball ‘politely’ declined a workout with Boston. Now that a workout with the team holding the No. 1 overall pick is presumably out of the picture, will Ball — whose father, LaVar, openly wants his son to go to the No. 2 pick-holding Los Angeles Lakers — not workout for the Philadelphia 76ers? The Sixers, who have the No. 3 overall pick, may still have a chance at a Ball workout, writes Chris Haynes of ESPN.com:
Former UCLA Bruins point guard Lonzo Ball is considering working out for the Philadelphia 76ers in advance of the 2017 NBA draft on June 22, league sources told ESPN.
Philadelphia owns the third overall pick in the draft.
A final decision will be made once Ball’s agent, Harrison Gaines, and Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo have had an extensive conversation centered on the identity of the team, sources told ESPN.
That dialogue is expected within the coming weeks. Most expect Ball to be off the board after the first two selections.
League sources said the concern regarding the Ball-Sixers link is the organization’s plan to feature forward Ben Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, in a ball dominant, point-forward role next season.
Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball, has repeatedly expressed his desire for his son to be drafted by their hometown Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 2 pick.
Ball, at 6-foot-6, declared for the draft following his freshman campaign in which he averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists. He was a consensus first-team All-American.
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East finals loss eye-opening for title-hungry Celtics — The Boston Celtics’ accomplishments in 2016-17 — winning the Atlantic Division, getting the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference and more — are nothing to downplay. After a Game 5, series-ending loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East finals, though, the Celtics see just how far they have to go to reach The Finals and that stage. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald has more:
When it came to these Eastern Conference finals, getting past the Cavaliers would have required good fortune on the grandest scale. Winning Powerball lucky. Getting four first-round draft picks from the Nets lucky. Finding a parking space on Newbury Street lucky.
Oh, the Celtics stayed the course and made the big plays down the stretch to come back from 21 down and win Game 3, and they made Cleveland sweat some in Game 4. But when the Cavaliers were engaged, as they were in last evening’s 135-102 series clincher, the Celts were no match.
“We still obviously have to keep growing as a group, getting better,” said Al Horford. “We obviously see the team to get past is Cleveland, and right now we’re not there. We’re not where we need to be.”
Maybe only Golden State is. And while those around the Celtics were saying these last few days that, hey, there are just three teams left playing and they’re one of them, the C’s are most definitely not one of the three best teams in the NBA.
Danny Ainge essentially told everyone that when he avoided making a deal at the trade deadline that could have made his club marginally better now but might also have hindered its chances to the kind of larger moves that he’ll be looking for in the offseason that begin officially late last night.
In light of that need for roster enhancement, this could have been the last parquet party for a fair number of those in uniform. And while it’s a lock that Greenhearts will offer their affection quickly to the next edition, it’s worth noting that even the jaded local sports fans who have seen more parades than presidential elections this century managed to find a lot to like in a club they knew wasn’t ready to stitch a banner.
And though the players know what’s coming and those who leave will still make more money than us at their next place of employment, the parting won’t be easy.
“It’s difficult every year whenever you don’t have guys back,” said Stevens. “I think you share a bond. I think we had our first practice eight months ago tomorrow. We’ve been together pretty much for eight straight months. There’s a lot of bond that’s created with that, especially on a team that has some success. I appreciated everybody’s accountability. I appreciated everybody’s approach. I thought those things were huge in helping us all achieve together.
“So when you have a team like that, you’re going to miss the guys that aren’t back, whoever that may be. And those are great things and lessons for the guys that are to take forward with them.”
But Ainge will have to break this roster and reset it if he ever hopes to make it strong enough to deal with any team bearing LeBron James.
And while the Celts recognize that reality, they were still fighting after the last, merciful buzzer of the series.
“We’re definitely disappointed,” said Avery Bradley, despite the fact to be so would indicate a belief they had a true chance. “I feel like if we weren’t, there would be a problem. We all feel like we put ourselves in a great position to go further in the season, especially the last game (Game 4). We were in a good place to be able to win a second game in a row, but it’s been unfortunate for us. The injuries, and not only that, but us not being able to finish games the way we wanted to.
“We’ve been playing against a very good team, all credit to those guys, but we feel like we should be here and we feel like we should be a championship-contending team. The great thing about this is the experience (is) we were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learn a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it’s going to help us for next year.”
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Ex-Lakers coach Scott says he was ‘lied to’ by team management — As a player for the Los Angeles Lakers, Byron Scott will always be remembered as a key piece of three title teams in the 1980s. As coach of the Lakers, his tenure was less sparking as he amassed at 38-126 record from 2014-16 before being fired last summer. In an interview with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Scott had some things to say about his old bosses during his coaching days in Lakerland:
Scott remembers a far different environment when he was the head coach with a different front office. His teams went a combined 38-126 during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons as he tried to juggle managing the final injury-plagued seasons of Kobe Bryant’s career while trying to develop a young roster. He was fired, replaced quickly by Luke Walton, then a Golden State assistant coach.
Scott said he “felt betrayed, lied to and deceived” by former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and former executive Jim Buss. Though he had only two guaranteed years on his four-year contract, Scott contends that Kupchak and Jim Buss previously promised him they would exercise the team option for his third year. Scott also believes the Lakers used him to manage Bryant during his final seasons and farewell tour before making the coach a scapegoat for the franchise’s struggles.
“If I asked him to do certain things, Kobe would do it because of his respect for me,” said Scott, who mentored Bryant during his rookie season in 1996-97. “Basically, you just wanted me there to help you guys get through the next two years, so Kobe doesn’t go crazy on you guys. I would be the one that can handle it. They know me. I’m not going to back down. I’m not going to be intimidated by anybody.”
Scott considers his experience as Lakers coach a “hard lesson learned,” which he addressed in a new book titled, “Slam-Dunk Success: Leading from Every Position on Life’s Court.”
Scott also dismissed criticism from inside and outside the Lakers of his stern approach, which affected his relationships with D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young. Scott mused “this old-school stuff people keep talking about, if old school and hard work is winning, I guess I’m old school.” He also contended, “I relate with players extremely well.”
“There’s not a player in this league I had that I can’t communicate with or had some good relationships with,” Scott said. “Are there players that played for me that can’t stand me and vice versa? Yeah. I’m sure there are. But most of the players that I coached, when I come into contact with them, it’s nothing but mutual respect.”
Scott has different feelings about Russell. He said the then-rookie’s demotion was partly because he frequently arrived to the Lakers’ facility only minutes before practice started. So, Scott eventually required his young players to complete individual workouts 30 minutes before and after practice.
Though Walton has given Russell positive reinforcement regarding his play and has seen him participate in offseason workouts, he often mentioned Russell’s ongoing process in establishing a routine. Despite Russell averaging 15.6 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals during his second season, Johnson and Pelinka instructed him to focus on improving his consistency, conditioning and leadership.
“I don’t know if his work ethic has gotten any better. Some of the people I’ve talked to in the organization said that it hasn’t,” Scott said of Russell. “I just wish him all the best. The maturity level will catch up to him sooner or later when he realizes it’s an honor and a privilege to be in the NBA and be in the position that he’s in. He has to take full advantage of it.”
Scott isn’t sure if he’ll ever coach again, but after a year of self-reflection, he believes he would fare better coaching in college instead of the NBA.
“They give you more time and you have a little bit more security,” Scott said. “There are too many teams in the NBA where owners and general managers say one thing and then the next year do another. I just don’t like the disloyalty and the politics that are going on a lot in the NBA. If I coach again, the collegiate level would be the better fit for me.”
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Johnson: Ingram is only untouchable player on Lakers’ roster — New Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is tasked with getting his former team off the NBA mat in the coming years. Doing so may require a trade or two, but one player Johnson will not part with is second-year forward Brandon Ingram. Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com has more:
“I would say probably the only player that we would say, hey, we would probably not move is Brandon Ingram,” Johnson, the Lakers president of basketball operations said Thursday in a radio interview with ESPN Los Angeles.
“I think that we’re excited about Brandon, his length, his size, his agility, his athleticism. And then when you think about, you know, he was a baby coming in, in his first year last season and we see that he really has a high ceiling and we’re excited about what he can possibly turn into.”
The 6-foot-9, 190-pound Ingram, a former Duke standout, was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
In his first season with the Lakers, Ingram averaged 9.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 28.8 minutes over 79 games.
“We have as good a young core — once we add this pick — as any [team] in the league,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said at the draft lottery in New York earlier this month. “Even the great teams that are dominant — like Golden State — they grew through the draft. We feel like we have that type of core, for sure.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: According to the odds makers in Las Vegas, the Golden State Warriors have opened up as the heavy favorites to win The Finals … Complete list of the early entry candidates who are staying and going for the 2017 NBA Draft … Speaking of the Warriors, coach Steve Kerr is still not quite ready to return to the bench … ICYMI, the Atlanta Hawks officially have a new GM … Golden State big man JaVale McGee has agreed to pay a more than $9,000 bill assessed to him by a former landlord …