Lakers News: Latest on Lonzo Ball, Brook Lopez and More

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterSeptember 26, 2017

Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball poses for a picture during NBA basketball media day, in El Segundo, Calif., Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Chris Carlson/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers' 2017 media day was chock-full of highly anticipated reveals.

Lonzo Ball got his first extended look in purple-and-gold threads. So did fellow recent draftees Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant, along with former All-Star Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Everyone did their business while milling about the Lakers' brand-spankin'-new practice facility, the UCLA Health Training Center, in El Segundo.

Here are some of the more newsworthy tidbits from Monday's 2017-18 NBA season introduction.

        

Leading Lonzo

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

As mature as Ball may seem, he's still a 19-year-old rookie looking for his bearings in the Association.

"I’m a rookie, so there’s a lot for me to learn," Ball said during his media-day scrum.

As head coach Luke Walton revealed during his huddle, the Lakers have already picked out a Jedi master to tutor their point-guard Padawan: associate head coach Brian Shaw.

"He’s gonna kind of take on a mentor role with him throughout this year and really be in charge of making sure everything is going well," Walton said.

For the Lakers, the rationale of putting Shaw on Ball watch boils down largely to the former's experience as a floor general. Shaw averaged 6.9 points and 4.2 assists during his 14 NBA seasons, including the last four with the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers.

Since then, Shaw has coached under Rudy Tomjanovich and Phil Jackson in L.A. and Frank Vogel with the Indiana Pacers. He spent two seasons as head coach of the Denver Nuggets from 2013 to 2015 before returning to the Lakers under Walton last season.

When told of Shaw's assignment, Ball was caught unaware but said: "I look forward to it."

Shaw isn't the only one keeping, who has been or who will be keeping a close eye on the Lakers' latest No. 2 pick. According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, assistant coach Miles Simon worked extensively with Ball this summer, and Walton will be tracking the wunderkind's minutes to ensure the Lakers don't "overuse him as a rookie."

     

Early Injuries

Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

The Lakers will open training camp on Tuesday with at least two new faces battling their own bodies.

Per Lakers Nation's Serena Winters, Walton revealed that Lopez (back spasms) and Hart (hamstring) might have to hold back early on in the team's preseason preparations.

Lopez detailed that his spasms appeared out of the blue, but that they weren't serious and he's not concerned about their effect going forward. The 29-year-old center was relatively healthy during his last three seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, but he was plagued by foot problems prior to that.

As for Hart, he's been nicked up throughout his short time with the Lakers so far. He played just two games at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League while recovering from an ankle sprain.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bogut—the most injury-prone of the new Lakers—is healthy. As he said at media day (h/t Lakers Nation's Matthew Moreno), the former No. 1 overall pick had been working out in his native Australia for the last six weeks before flying to L.A. to sign with the Lakers. Last season, Bogut bounced from the Dallas Mavericks to the Philadelphia 76ers and then to the Cleveland Cavaliers, with whom he fractured his tibia during his first minute in uniform.

Bogut is in camp with the team on a one-year, partially guaranteed deal. For now, he will serve largely as insurance against Lopez's latest setback. He may have a shot to make the final 15-man roster, and not just because of the team's needs or his own abilities as a tough defender and heady veteran. Per ClutchPoints' Ryan Ward, general manager Rob Pelinka said he and Magic Johnson, the Lakers' president of basketball operations, will let Walton, who coached Bogut with the Golden State Warriors, decide who gets that last spot.

Bogut's competition for the spot includes high-scoring D-Leaguer Vander Blue, defensive-minded guard Briante Weber, former Orlando Magic big man Stephen Zimmerman and undrafted rookie V.J. Beachem.