All was quite at the Los Angeles Lakers practice facility Thursday morning, and when the noon NBA trade deadline passed on the west coast, the team was finishing up their practice running suicide drills. For guard Nick Young, those dreaded running drills were an indication that everyone was staying put.
“Once we started running suicides, I pretty much thought I was stuck here,” Young laughed. “At first they were going a little light, they didn’t want to get us hurt, but after those suicides, I was like ‘okay’ I’m here to stay.”
Of course, Young’s name was one of a handful in the Lakers rumor mill, as well as Lou Williams, Brandon Bass, among others. The Lakers young core, though, was for the most part, off limits.
The passing of the trade deadline wasn’t the only thing buzzing around the Lakers media world this week. Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times reported that the Lakers franchise “seems torn” on whether head coach Byron Scott will return for the last guaranteed year of his contract next season. Yesterday, general manager Mitch Kupchak made himself available to the media to discuss the trade deadline and declined comment when asked questions pertaining specifically to Scott, except to reiterate that Scott is currently under contract. To be fair, Kupchak also said he preferred not delve into specific player evaluations at this time, either.
On Thursday, Scott revealed he had a “good” conversation with Kupchak on Wednesday, but understandably didn’t discuss details of their private discussion.
“Everyone is being evaluated, absolutely,” Scott responded when a reporter asked whether he felt he was being evaluated.
Scott will be doing some evaluating himself over the last 27 games of the season, and his focus will be less on individual and more on how the young players collectively come together as a unit.
“Development of those guys playing together is what I’m looking at,” Scott said when asked about lineup combinations, specifically with D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.
D’Angelo Russell will be back in the starting lineup at some point in the “near” future, but Scott cautioned that it will not be Friday. Randle will remain in the starting lineup for Friday’s game, even with Larry Nance, Jr. expected to return from a sore knee. Anthony Brown practiced on Thursday, but his playing status remains questionable.
As far as the Lakers future, Kupchak stressed on Wednesday the importance of player development in the latter half of the season and will be evaluating the growth of the Lakers young core and how they mesh together when considering their plans for the off-season.