Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Lakers’

Morning shootaround — Oct. 21

VIDEO: Highlights from games played Oct. 20


Buss defends Bryant extension | Aldridge: Kobe was bright spot in Lakers’ pitch | Drummond passes on extension | Noah a sixth man in 2015-16?

No. 1: Buss defends Bryant extension, fires back at Johnson — Los Angeles Lakers executive Jim Buss has not lacked in the critics department. From analysts to ex-Lakers players to fans, many have questioned the moves Buss has made in steering the Lakers back into relevance, let alone NBA title contention. One such move that is questioned was Buss giving Kobe Bryant a two-year, $45.8 million extension in 2013. Since then, injuries have limited Bryant to 41 games (out of a possible 164). But Buss stands by his move and explains why in an interview with USA Today‘s Sam Amick:

The Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations made it clear that he has no regrets about the controversial contract.

“You give Kobe Bryant $50 million for two years,” Buss told USA TODAY Sports in a wide-ranging interview. “Are you kidding me? What did he bring us? In this day and age, what did he bring us, for 20 years? And if that isn’t what you’re supposed to do, then I have no idea what life is all about.

“You pay the guy. You believe in the guy. If he ends up (staying healthy), that’s fantastic. Well everybody (in the media) cut me up for that, but I’d say over 200 fans have come up to me and said, ‘Thank you so much for letting my kid see Kobe Bryant for two more years.’ And I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m glad I can see him for two more years.’ ”

Even now, as the Lakers approach the start of their latest regular season, Bryant is missing preseason games because of a left leg contusion suffered against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

Give Buss credit for this much: He’s transparent about how he sees the Bryant deal. Yes, there was a lifetime achievement factor, with the Buss family deciding not only to pay Bryant in the future but to honor him for his past. And to anyone who dares bring up the piece from a year ago that so strongly suggested Buss was eager for Bryant to head for the exits so the Lakers’ rebuild could begin in earnest, he is quick to condemn the concept.

“It’s (BS), that’s exactly what that was,” he fired back when asked about the ESPN the Magazine article. “The organization absolutely loves him. You know why? Because he has made a living, as we (have) with the Lakers for the last 20 years, because of this man. Magic Johnson carried us (to) this part (of their history) … and Kobe Bryant has carried us for 20 years. So every person that works in that organization, why would they hate him? Why would they want him out of there? There’s only a basketball or a Kobe hater that would want that. There’s no other reason.”

He laughs.

“You can’t justify (being anti-Bryant),” Buss continued. “If you’re a secretary or a mail room executive or whatever, you can’t justify saying you don’t want Kobe there. He gets a thousand pieces of mail a day, so that keeps your job.”

Additionally, Buss took on one of his biggest critics, former Lakers star Magic Johnson, and had this to say:

“Magic Johnson going nuts on me?” Buss said with a laugh. “It’s like, ‘Really, dude? My dad made you a billionaire almost. Really? Where are you coming from?’ ”

Johnson — who sold his share of the Lakers in 2010 and two years later led the ownership group that paid $2 billion for the Los Angeles Dodgers — earned approximately $43 million during his playing days and has been wildly successful in the business sector ever since (a 2011 Forbes report estimated his net worth at $525 million). In the grander sense, though, it’s well-chronicled that late owner Jerry Buss‘ impact on Johnson went well beyond basketball.

“Dr. Buss gave me the platform to be Magic,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times in Feb. 2013 after Buss’ death. “He gave me the knowledge to be Magic.”

When asked about Buss’ comment, Johnson issued a statement to USA TODAY Sports in response.

“It’s all about winning, Jim,” Johnson said.

*** (more…)

Hang Time Road Trip: Hollywood Shuffle


VIDEO: Hang Time Day 4

By Lang Whitaker

Los Angeles — It wouldn’t be a road trip without some detours along the way. But hitting that literal detour around midnight? Nobody saw that coming.

Getting from Oakland to Los Angeles should be, in theory at least, a simple proposition. You can take the 101, or the 5, or whatever it takes to head south.

But yesterday on the Hang Time Road Trip 2, after we finished up at 2K Sports and made a brief stop in San Jose, we piled in the bus and pointed south down the 101 to check out some of those scenic views California is so famous for displaying. Once the sun set, we switched over to the 5, for a more direct route.

And then Mother Nature said, Hang Time? Hang on.

Serious mudslides closed off interstate access, meaning we got hit with u-turn and briefly stopped near Bakersfield while we figured out what to do. Luckily, we got plenty of free traffic advice at a McDonald’s from fellow road warriors who were also stuck.

Highway closed. Found a Mickey D's to wait it out. Another adventure. #nbahangtime

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

After a few moments that felt like an episode of “The Californians” on “Saturday Night Live” — “What you should do is take the 5 up north to the 46, then cut over to the 101, then…” — we saddled up and reconfigured our route.

We ended up arriving in Los Angeles just as the sun was coming up, and after catching a few minutes of shut eye, showed up in El Segundo at the Los Angeles Lakers practice facility.

Lakers practice #nbahangtime

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

It was a homecoming of sorts for our own Rick Fox, who is at least partially responsible for a couple of those championship banners hanging on the walls. And in order to get a grip on what the future holds for this Lakers franchise, coach Byron Scott and rookie sensation D’Angelo Russell hopped on the bus to talk about the future of the Lake Show with us.

#LakerNation @dloading joining us on the Hang Time Road Trip Bus @nba @nbatv

A photo posted by Rick Fox (@imrickafox) on

It’s been a long few days, but we made it. Now if only we knew someone who could show us around Hollywood… oh wait, I think I might know just the guy!

Okay @jessicasteindorff cleaned up halfway – progress not perfection 😜

A photo posted by Rick Fox (@imrickafox) on

Report: Odom conscious, breathing on own, still critical

If determined solely by all the good thoughts and prayers from around the league for critically ill Lamar Odom, the vigil over the former star forward would be near its end. As it is, family and friends will take improvement where they can find it, with a report Friday afternoon that Odom was conscious and breathing on his own at a Las Vegas hospital.

According to sources cited by’s Ramona Shelburne, Odom no longer needed a breathing tube but was wearing a breathing mask. He remained in critical condition.

Odom was found unconscious Tuesday at a brothel in Nevada and, after being rushed to Las Vegas, was placed on life support. The 6-foot-10 inch product of New Britain, Conn., and the University of Rhode Island played 14 seasons in the NBA, averaging 13.3 points and 8.4 rebounds for four franchises. Odom helped the Los Angeles Lakers win two NBA championships in 2009 and 2010, and was the league’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2010-11.

Here are details from Shelburne’s latest update:

Sources told ESPN that Odom’s condition had been improving slightly over the past 36 hours, but he remained sedated as doctors worked to make sure his organs functioned properly.

Late Thursday night, Khloe Kardashian, Odom’s estranged wife, said her family won’t be posting content online while attending to his health crisis. Kardashian’s representative confirmed Friday that the message on the reality TV star’s official app was posted by the family.

It read: “As a family, we’ve decided to hold off on publishing content across our apps while we continue to support and pray for Lamar.”

Meanwhile, Odom’s aunt and godmother also thanked the public for its support, saying they’re focused on his “complete healing.”

Publicist Alvina Alston issued a statement Friday on behalf of JaNean Mercer, Odom’s maternal aunt and godmother.

The statement said in part: “No words can express the overwhelming gratitude we feel for the outpouring of support from around the world.”

Alston said Mercer is the sister of Odom’s late mother, who helped raise him in New York, where Mercer still lives. Mercer and other family members are now in Las Vegas.

Hang Time Road Trip: From Oakland to LA!


By Sekou Smith

OAKLAND — We finished our business in the Bay Area, talked to the champs and invaded 2K, and now it’s time to head to Los Angeles.

The Hang Time Road Trip is rolling along these California highways, soaking it all in and making sure to get as caught up in the hype of the moment as we can. The Golden State Warriors held an open practice Wednesday night at Oracle Arena that was every bit as entertaining as advertised.

We caught up with the champs before, during and after — general manager Bob Myers came on the bus for a chat before the practice, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes made some time afterwards and we even got to spend a little quality time with Larry O’Brien — the festivities.

The guys…and Larry. #Repost @langwhitaker

A photo posted by @nbatv on

This morning, however, presented an opportunity for the HT crew to get a bit of a workout at 2K, where our main man Ronnie2K gave us the VIP tour. We hit headquarters for some work 2K16 (Lang whipped Rick) and some on-court action in the motion capture facility.

You haven’t lived until you’ve strapped on the spandex and taken your turn doing mo-cap!

We know we’re going to see both the Lakers and Clippers in LA, so this trips is only going to get more and more interesting as we roll along. Here’s a little view from inside the bus as we made our way to 2K. We talked about the trip, Lamar Odom, what’s to come in SoCal and much more on today’s video podcast.


VIDEO: The Hang Time Road Trip crew finishes up in the Bay Arena before heading to LA


Keep up with us around the clock on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook (using the hashtag #NBAHangTime):

Morning shootaround — Oct. 15

VIDEO: Highlights from games played Oct. 14


Okafor may not be ready for opening night | Scott in favor of a 4-point line | Rose ‘most likely’ to miss all of preseason | Report: Harden, Howard out tonight vs. Warriors

No. 1: Okafor may not be ready to go on opening night — Over the last few seasons, the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans are well-versed in having a franchise big man not be ready to go come the season opener. This trend started back in 2012 with Andrew Bynum (who never played a game in Philly), continued the next season with rookie Nerlens Noel (who missed all of 2013-14) and happened last season with rookie Joel Embiid (who has yet to suit up for the 76ers). This year’s top draft pick, center Jahlil Okafor, may continue the trend, but at least his missing the opener is due more to conditioning than injury. Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News has more:

… While Okafor isn’t sidelined with a serious injury as the three big men before him were, it doesn’t appear that he’ll enter the season at 100 percent.

The hope all along for coach Brett Brown was to have the third overall pick in good enough shape to be ready for the season-opener on Oct. 28 in Boston. Recently, Brown said he’d like to have Okafor playing about 32 minutes a game. But a sore right knee has sidelined him for close to a week, thus putting him behind as far as on-court fitness is concerned and definitely delaying the 32-minute runs his coach was hoping for.

Okafor did work out on his own yesterday during the team’s practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, but that didn’t include any full-court activity. It is unknown whether the center will be ready for Friday’s preseason home game against the Washington Wizards, or when he could be at full strength.

“It’s not fair to him, it’s not fair to put him in that situation (to be fully ready by opening night),” said Brown. “The end game, I hope, will be about 32 minutes, maybe even more. But it’s really based on his fitness. He has no right to come out and be fit right from this injury. So I have to be smart with the minutes I give him. That is the end game that I hope to get to, 32 minutes. It’s going to be based on if you can go hard for four eight-minute stretches. If you can go for four eights, then that’s a good thing.”

The Sixers seem committed to not pushing their big men into a hasty return from injury, no matter how minor, and Okafor insisted on Tuesday that his knee problem was minor.

“I think he arrived good. He arrived good,” said Brown of Okafor’s fitness for training camp. “I feel like the knowledge of what great is going to be is the education that we have to help him and teach him. He’s been tremendously set back now. … I think that his fitness is not that far away in regards of we know how to do it, but because he hasn’t played, it’s just not at a stage right now where we can talk about that volume of minutes.”

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Blogtable: Which Kobe will show up in 2015-16?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Offseason’s biggest storyline was? | Which Kobe will we get? | Assessing longer Finals

VIDEOKobe Bryant drops in 21 points in a preseason victory

> What will we see more often this season: The old Kobe Bryant, or just old Kobe Bryant?

David Aldridge, TNT analyst: Probably the latter. Aging players can occasionally summon their old form, but it’s almost impossible to maintain it night in and night out. Your body just doesn’t recover as quickly. The new, more relaxed schedule will help every player, including Kobe. But that’s the problem — everyone will be better rested, and they’ll still be younger. Old Kobe can still be an effective player; just not a dominant one.

Steve Aschburner, Both? Seems like a non-committal answer but I really think we’ll see flashes of Kobe Bryant of yore interspersed with an unprecedented amount of Kobe oldness. And I don’t think there will be any particular pattern, whether he logs some back-to-back appearances or not. Some nights we’ll get a play or two, other nights a quarter or a half and, if he really happens to be feeling it, we’ll occasionally spend the whole evening in a hot-tub time machine as he goes on a scoring jag. But do I think Bryant will match Michael Jordan‘s quality of play as an oldster (21.2 ppg on 20.1 FG attempts over his final two seasons)? No. Jordan was older but Bryant already has logged more minutes in more games, by at least two seasons’ worth. Besides the recuperative benefits Jordan gained from his two sabbaticals, he didn’t have serious injuries in late career the way Bryant has. So a lot of it won’t be pretty but it still will be worth watching.

Fran Blinebury, I’m going in hopeful and saying a little of both. An old Kobe Bryant certainly won’t be able to deliver with the consistency of the past, but assuming he can stay healthy — a big if — we’ll see occasional flashes of the old Kobe.

Scott Howard-Cooper, Somewhere in between. He will be “just old Kobe Bryant,” because even an ultimate warrior like Bryant knows he cannot take Father Time one-on-one. Age will obviously be a factor. But a healthy Kobe — and no one can accurately predict the medical — will be fine. He won’t be a superstar, but he won’t be irrelevant. The Kobe Bryant of 2015-16 will struggle with his shot and won’t log big minutes… and will still help his team.

John Schuhmann, I’d be more encouraged about seeing the old Kobe Bryant if the Lakers had a stronger supporting cast. But this roster is still going to call for him to shoot a high volume of contested jumpers (he took a remarkable 10.5 per game last season), and that’s going to hurt his efficiency and ability to stay fresh over an 82-game season.

Sekou Smith, They’ll battle each other all season, the old Kobe Bryant and just old Kobe Bryant. And I’m convinced we’ll see more of the former more than some expect. The past three seasons have obviously been a struggle for Kobe. Injuries and Father Time continue to win the fight against every professional athlete, even an all-time great like Kobe. If he can stay healthy, old Kobe will make plenty of appearances for the Lakers this season. Either way, it’s going to be an intriguing season for Kobe and the Lakers.

Ian Thomsen, If we see Kobe for more than 60 games then he will not be looking old. In fact he will be exploring new ways to score and succeed. I think he’ll be a marvel.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blogIt’s fun to imagine the possibilities: Kobe Bryant, in his 20th season, beating younger players off the dribble and dunking in the paint, or hitting pull-up jumpers as the clock expires. It’s also unfair to Kobe, who shouldn’t be expected to carry an inordinate load at this stage of his career. Sure, there may be moments when we see the old Kobe Bryant we know and love, but to be frank, Kobe Bryant is old. That’s what we should expect to see, and then let Kobe blow our expectations out of the water, like he relishes doing.

One Team, One Stat: Contested Lakers

VIDEO: Schuhmann’s Advanced Stats: Los Angeles Lakers’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2015-16 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Los Angeles Lakers, who don’t care for open shots.

The stat


The context

20151014_lal_basicsSportVU defines a contested jumper as “any jumper outside of 10 feet where a defender is within 4 feet of the shooter.” If there’s no defender within four feet, the shot is uncontested.

That doesn’t take into account the size of the defender or if his arms were up, but season-long numbers present a clear difference between contested and uncontested shots.

League-wide, uncontested jumpers yielded an effective field goal percentage of almost 10 percentage points better than contested jumpers.


Kobe Bryant took more than 10 contested jumpers per game, which doesn’t seem possible.

Of course, it’s not good when you not only have the top guy in regard to the percentage of their jumpers that were contested, but No. 2 as well. And in addition to Bryant and Nick Young, the Lakers had two more guys — Jeremy Lin (44 percent) and Jordan Clarkson (43 percent) — in the top 30.

Even with Bryant and Young each missing at least 40 games, the Lakers led the league in contested jumpers by a wide margin.


And the Lakers took *846 more mid-range jumpers (at 0.74 points per attempt) than 3-pointers (at 1.03 points per attempt). As a result, they were a bottom-5 shooting team for the first time in more than 20 years and were 23rd in offensive efficiency, the lowest they’ve ranked in franchise history.

*Only the Wolves (+1,147) and Wizards (+990) had a greater differential between mid-range shots and threes. Only 13 of the 30 teams had a positive differential at all.

The Lakers have restructured their roster, and D’Angelo Russell looks like a point guard that will create lots of open shots for his teammates in time. But contested jumpers will still be a big part of their offense this season.

Bryant and Young are still around and new addition Lou Williams (46 percent) also ranked in the top 20 last season in regard to percentage of his jumpers that were contested. So he should fit right in!

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Morning shootaround — Oct. 14

VIDEO: Highlights from games played Oct. 13


Curry, Green rip Warriors’ critics | Kobe expected to be fine after knee injury | Lillard ready to lead Blazers | West happy to be in San Antonio

No. 1: Curry rips Warriors’ many critics — Despite having won the 2015 NBA championship, the Golden State Warriors have taken flak from some around the league that their path to the title wasn’t that tough. Well, you can only poke at the champs for so long before they’re going to swing back and that’s exactly what happened yesterday. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green gave a sarcastic apology of sorts for their title run, writes Diamond Leung of the San Jose Mercury News:

No longer able to remain politically correct about the post-championship criticism they’ve been hearing from their NBA rivals, the Warriors are returning fire.

Stephen Curry grew sarcastic Tuesday following a preseason shootaround. Draymond Green likened those who questioned whether the Warriors deserved to be champions to “a bitter female.” Andrew Bogut told Sirius XM he would “sit back and laugh at some of these boneheads.” Even general manager Bob Myers acknowledged to the radio station that he thought “there has been a narrative of luck.”

Asked where he stood on other teams commenting on what the Warriors didn’t have to do to win the championship, Curry replied with sarcasm.

“I kind of want to just say, ‘I apologize for us being healthy. I apologize for us playing who was in front of us. I apologize for all the accolades we’ve received as a team and individually. I’m very, truly sorry. We’ll rectify that situation this year,’ ” Curry said.

He smiled and added: “I try to have fun with it.”

Green said the amount of criticism the Warriors have taken after the championship showed him just how many people there were in the league who didn’t want to see them win it all.

“People hate change,” he said. “People don’t accept change well. They’re used to Golden State just floating around the bottom of the league.”

Then Green ventured into some territory he probably will wish he hadn’t.

“So, it’s funny,” he said. “It’s like a bitter female. Like, you ever dealt with a bitter female that’s just scorned? God! That’s rough. When you’re dealing with a bitter female that’s scorned, that’s one of the worst things in the world. And God, that’s bad.”

Green indicated the criticism he was hearing came from teams that had not won championships.

Gregg Popovich didn’t say that,” Green said, referring to the Spurs coach. “That’s one organization I really respect. And you haven’t heard anybody in their camp say that. You ain’t heard anybody from OKC say that. Some of the organizations that I really respect.

“So if they’re saying that, it’s some bitterness and some saltiness going around, they’re obviously not the champs. So who cares what they say?”

*** (more…)

Morning shootaround — Oct. 11

VIDEO: Recap the preseason games from Saturday night


Hornets’ Lin plays, and plays it safe, in China | Metta World Peace: ‘It’s a baby’s game’ | Wizards’ Humphries stretching his game | Jordan touts NBA, Nike brand on trip

No. 1: Hornets’ Lin plays, and plays it safe, in China — Here, Jeremy Lin is a little more famous than other NBA players of his caliber, owing to his ethnic background (Chinese) and memories of his “Linsanity” splash onto the league’s scene with New York in February 2012. There – that is to say, in China, where Lin is visiting with his Charlotte Hornets team – he’s some combination of Michael Jordan, Elvis and Beatlemania. His popularity since he picked up that country’s basketball baton from Yao Ming is tremendous – but also something to respect and handle properly, as the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell wrote from the Hornets’ stop in Shenzhen:

China has been very good to Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin.

He has millions of followers on Weibo, the Chinese parallel of Twitter. He makes millions off endorsement deals for cars, sports apparel and sports drinks. He draws massive crowds on the mainland for every promotional appearance or basketball camp.

And then there’s the other side of being so famous in a country with more than 300 million basketball fans.

“It can be scary, too,” Lin said in a lengthy interview with the Observer. “When people somehow know what room I’m in, what floor I’m on. Fans aren’t supposed to get up that elevator, but somehow they do. And then they’re waiting for me and all I can say is, ‘You know you are not supposed to be up here?’

“If I am in China I always have a personal body guard, and if I’m making an appearance I’ll always have a team of security. The body guard is legit; he’s always there to stay by my door to hear every knock. Then I can be comfortable and feel safe.”

Lin is an Asian-American who played college basketball at Harvard. His parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan and his grandparents were born and raise on mainland China.


No. 2: Metta World Peace: ‘It’s a baby’s game’ — Besides going global, the NBA allegedly is going soft. At least, that’s the opinion of Metta World Peace, who cites what he considers to be diminishing toughness in play and players compared to what greeted him as a rookie in 1999. Of course, World Peace was named Ron Artest back then, a reminder that lots of things have changed since then. His analysis came after the Lakers’ practice Saturday – he’s attempting a comeback at age 36, with a contract that isn’t guaranteed – and was reported by the Los Angeles Times, among others:

“I remember I came into the NBA in 1999, the game was a little bit more rough. The game now is more for kids. It’s not really a man’s game anymore,” World Peace said. “The parents are really protective of their children. They cry to their AAU coaches. They cry to the refs, ‘That’s a foul. That’s a foul.’

“Sometimes I wish those parents would just stay home, don’t come to the game, and now translated, these same AAU kids whose parents came to the game, ‘That’s a foul.’ These kids are in the NBA. So now we have a problem. You’ve got a bunch of babies professionally around the world.”

World Peace wasn’t quite done.

“It’s no longer a man’s game,” he said. “It’s a baby’s game. There’s softies everywhere. Everybody’s soft. Nobody’s hard no more. So, you just deal with it, you adjust and that’s it.”

On a nonguaranteed $1.5-million minimum contract, World Peace is hoping to make the Lakers’ 15-man roster for opening night. The team currently has 19 players almost midway through the preseason.
In his debut, World Peace gave the team’s second unit a boost against Utah, leaping over courtside seats while chasing down a loose ball last Tuesday. The Lakers would ultimately lose in overtime.

“I forgot that I was on a nonguaranteed contract when I dived,” World Peace said. “My brother reminded me, ‘What are you doing? You’re on a nonguaranteed contract. You’re going to kill yourself.’

“I was like ‘Oh wow, that’s right,’ but that’s the only way I know how to play, so I don’t care about a nonguaranteed contract. I just want to play hard.”


No. 3: Wizards’ Humphries stretching his game — So often, it’s NBA fans taking shots at and otherwise heckling journeyman forward Kris Humphries over his don’t-blink marriage into the schlock-famous Kardashian family (his marriage to Kim had a shelf life of 72 days, from vows uttered to divorce papers filed). This time, Humphries is the one taking shots – specifically, 3-point shots, a new challenge for him driven by the Washington Wizards’ recent embrace of small ball and the league’s trend of deep-threat big men. With Humphries doing work from the arc early in the Wizards’ preseason schedule, Ben Standig of wrote about this old dog’s new trick:

“This is a different game for me,” Humphries stated this week.

The obvious difference involves the 3-point shot, a non-factor in his game truly until this past offseason. Playing a traditional power forward role, Humphries attempted only 26 shots from beyond the arc for his career. That included seven last season. He missed them all. The last make came during his 2004-05 rookie season.

Through two preseason games, Humphries leads the Wizards with 10 attempts. Yes, change is coming.

“That’s what they want to do here. You kind of have to adapt to help your team,” Humphries said following Tuesday’s preseason opener. “I just wish I would have started shooting 3’s earlier. This is really like the first summer where I was like I’m going to work on my 3-point shooting. Before you might shoot a few corner 3’s or something in a workout. This year I was like, I’m going to work on it.”

Yet the actual deep shot isn’t the only distinction in the 6-foot-9 forward’s game this season. Anybody playing the 4-spot for Washington this season won’t simply be camped out in the lane for offensive rebounds or interior passes. The spread-the-floor philosophy deployed during last season’s playoff run is the primary staple now.

“It’s different, especially for me,” Humphries said. “I haven’t really played on the wing, like at the 3-point line to where I’m going to try to get an offensive rebound and then running back and then running again. It’s adding that extra [23 feet 9 inches] of running in there. It doesn’t seem like a lot but it catches up to you. It’ early on. I’ve just got a little extra shooting and conditioning — I’ve got to be in better shape if I’m going to play this way.”

Humphries went 2 of 4 on 3’s in Tuesday’s blowout win over the Philadelphia 76ers, but struggled in Friday’s loss to the New York Knicks, missing five of six attempts.


No. 4: Jordan touts NBA, Nike brand on tripMichael Jordan, as the Hornets’ principal owner, a Nike icon and the NBA’s most recognizable ambassador, was in China with his team. Not known for his interview availability these days, His Airness did sit for a chat pegged to this trip, with the story carried in the Shanghai Daily. The Web site’s translation to English was a little spotty but it did capture some insights into Jordan:

Jordan visited China only once in 2004, which caused a national craze. “Ah, 11 years ago,” Jordan, talking about the visit in 2004, said what impressed him most was the Chinese fans. “You know the fans, the way they were passionate about game of basketball. Obviously they remember me playing, I enjoyed spending the time there,” Jordan recalled, “it gives me an opportunity after 11 years going back. It’s kind of reconnecting with the fans based over there. Jordan Brand fans, Michael Jordan fans, so I’m looking forward to it.”

As for Hornets’ prospects for the new season, Jordan showed his sober optimism. “They should be okay. We changed a lot of personnel. Everybody is excited I’m very excited but I don’t want to get overexcited.”

Jordan made specific mention of Jeremy Lin, who joined in the Hornets from the LA Lakers this summer. Jordan saw it a successful deal, “We just got Jeremy Lin, who I think is going to be our biggest acquisition. His penetration, his shooting capability, his point guard savvy, he can really pass the basketball, his energy about the game of basketball something,” Jordan said.

Jordan’s success derives from his desire to excel and unparalleled confidence, which, as he said, was an inborn instinct accompanying his growth.

“No point did I doubt my skills. As a basketball player, there are things I feel like I had to improve on, but in terms of confidence about me playing the basketball I never doubt that at all,” Jordan told Xinhua, even if when he entered NBA as a rookie in 1984, “Rookie? I always felt like I could play, I just need to learn, I considered myself the lowest on the totem pole but I know I have to work my way up, but I didn’t lack confidence at all. I lacked the experience.”

Jordan said that it was the game of basketball that gave him a chance to do a lot of different things and meet a lot of different people, affecting and inspiring them. “The game allowed me to touch a lot of people I probably would never be able to touch if I don’t play the game of basketball.”

Jordan said he hoped people looked at him from a lot of different aspects. “When you see Michael Jordan you are going to see him in the sense that he is very versatile. He adapted, he looked at challenges, he looked at things can make himself better and he worked hard at it. So I would like people when they look at Michael Jordan is an all-around, good person, good competitor, good businessman, good basketball player, all the above.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were planning to put their proximity to Michael Jordan to good use on the Clippers’ and the Hornets’ China trip. … Paul’s broken left index finger, which kept him out of Sunday’s game in Shenzhen, reportedly won’t sideline the Clippers point guard for long or pose much of a problem. … LeBron James might own motorcycles but that doesn’t necessarily mean he rides motorcycles. Ditto for that motorcycle helmet and wearing it or not. … Kevin Love participated in his first full 5-on-5 practice with the Cavaliers since undergoing shoulder surgery during the playoffs. … The Hornets’ Steve Clifford is trying to stay flexible and be creative in moving lineup pieces around to pick up injured wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s slack. … Derrick Williams‘ contract might wind up getting blamed by New York Knicks fans for hurting the team’s chances of landing Kevin Durant in free agency next summer. But for now, the underachieving former No. 2 pick in the draft has shown signs of “getting it” and might actually help this season. … Washington anticipates bumps along Otto Porter‘s learning curve as he tries to fill Trevor Ariza‘s and Paul Pierce’s veteran shoes. … Relieved that his New York criminal trial is over, a vindicated Thabo Sefolosha scrambles to catch up with Atlanta Hawks teammates. He might play Wednesday. …

Morning shootaround — Oct. 9

VIDEO: Highlights from games played Oct. 8


Butler squashes talk of rift with Rose | Kobe ignores his ranking | Parker wants to play 20 yearsAnderson expecting big things from Pelicans

No. 1: Butler sounds off about rumored discord with Rose — The Chicago Bulls have one of the best backcourts in the NBA with All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose leading the way there. But since last season’s East semifinals ouster at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, there has been lingering chatter that Rose and Butler do not get along. According to sources in a story appearing in Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times, Butler is supposedly not a fan of Rose’s work ethic. Well, things came to a head last night and Butler stood up for himself and his relationship with his teammate after a preseason loss to the Denver Nuggets. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has more:

“I don’t understand why everybody wants to find a problem with me and Derrick,” Butler said. “Let us be the fierce (expletive) competitors that we are (and) just let us play together. There’s nothing going on.”

Ever since the funky ending to last season’s playoffs, in which a passive Rose took four second-half shots in the final game against the Cavaliers, the storyline has lingered. Butler has spoken about it several times, including during a lengthy sit-down in August at the USA Basketball minicamp.

He did so again Thursday in perhaps his strongest fashion, the words coming in a torrent.

“I’ll try to keep my cuss words to a minimum, but it’s making me mad,” Butler said. “I love having Derrick as a teammate. I think we can be one of the best — if not the best — backcourts in the NBA.”

“Derrick and I are two great players who play well together,” Butler said. “We do have to adjust a bit to each other’s game because we haven’t played a lot together. But we will continue to get better as we play more games and get the feel for this new offense.”

Butler also has emphatically expressed his intention to become a more vocal leader, even mentioning a shortage in that department despite the presence of Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.

“I’m not taking a shot at anybody,” Butler said. “If you ask Jo, he will tell you, ‘Jimmy needs to lead more.’ If you ask Pau, he’d say, ‘Jimmy needs to lead more.’ It’s not just me saying it; it’s everybody on this roster, (including) the coaches. I have to man up because I’ve been here longer than a lot of guys now. There have to be some leader aspects coming out of that sooner or later.

“Everybody wants to talk about how this is my team, (but) that’s not the case. I’ve said it multiple times: I don’t care whose team it is. My job is just to help (us) win — when we win, everybody looks great. Everybody gets a ring.”

VIDEO: Jimmy Butler comes up with a steal and jam vs. the Nuggets

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