Kurt Helin

Julius Randle

Lakers’ Byron Scott brings D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle off bench


The Lakers player development practices are interesting.

I have made the argument more than once that Byron Scott needs to play his young trio that the Lakers see as their future — Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle — together more (and have them close out games). Ideally, play them away from Kobe Bryant as much as possible — play Kobe with the second unit more and let him and Lou Williams (and Nick Young) fight it out for shots.

But there are ways to stagger those guys gracefully. Scott chose another path.

Scott benched Russell and Randle in favor of starting Lou Williams against the Raptors Sunday.

According to Baxter Holmes of the youngsters were not fans of this plan.

“You’re never going to be thrilled about it as a competitor. It’s out of our control,” said Randle, who’s averaging 11.7 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds in 28.4 minutes this season…

“I feel like I was starting to figure it out, then this happened,” Russell said. “But I don’t feel like it’s something that’s going to get in the way of my growth. But it is what it is. I can’t do anything about it…. Everybody has a story at the end of the day as far as what they’ve been through to get to where they want to be or where they’re at at that point. Hopefully I can look back at this and laugh.”

Scott explains his logic.

“This change wasn’t so much based on them not performing up to their capability. It’s based on where we are as a team. That’s why I made this adjustment tonight. We’re 3-17, so obviously it’s not working. So I wanted to get some new blood in there, some fresh blood, and see how those guys play. Five to 10 games from now, there might be another change. We might go back to what we did last year with different rotations.”

Spoken like a coach trying to win games now, not focus on player development first.

Which apparently are the orders from farther up the food chain, because the whispers say that Scott has been given a pass by management for this start and he isn’t seen as the problem.

As a reminder, the Lakers get to keep their pick if it is in the top three of the June draft, if it’s fourth or later the pick goes to the Sixers.

Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard rest for Spurs Monday vs. Sixers

Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich

All the news in Philadelphia Monday has been off the court.

That includes with the visiting San Antonio Spurs.

Going up against the team with the worst record in the league, a couple of key Spurs would sit out, the team announced.

This was not a back-to-back situation, but the Spurs are off until Wednesday (and a much tougher test with the Raptors), so Pop got a star a rest and didn’t push his other star. Somehow I doubt it costs them in the end (although credit the Sixers with the fact they play hard every game).

PBT Podcast: We take your Twitter questions on Wade, Lakers, Clippers, more

Dwyane Wade
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We wanted to get you all involved in the PBT Podcast. Well, that and we can be a little lazy at times. So we asked for your questions on Twitter.

In this latest edition of the ProBasketballTalk Podcast Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman first break down the latest news around the league (note that this was recorded a couple hours before the Sixers’ front office shakeup, so obviously that will be saved for another date). But then we get into the listener’s questions on Twitter about the future for Dwyane Wade in Miami, the Lakers’ plans, are the Clippers picked on too much, George Karl and more.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.


PBT Extra: Why Cavaliers slide, Rockets climb in power rankings

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As they do every Monday, the ProBasketballTalk Power Rankings hit the street (well… the Internet street), and there were a few changes Jenna Corrado wanted to ask me about.

For one, the Cavaliers have lost three straight, so they slid down to fifth. Is that cause for concern? LeBron James has been concerned enough to call team meetings and discuss focus, energy, and defense. But once they get Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert back, a lot of those problems go away.

The Rockets have played better of late. They are 4-1 in their last five games, which has been all about an improved offense — the Rockets are scoring 7.7 points per 100 than their season average in this stretch. And expect it to continue for a little while as Houston’s next six games are against teams below .500. However, after that we will see if this is a mirage or if the Rockets have turned a corner.

Trust the process? Sixers hire Jerry Colangelo to lead basketball operations

Jerry Colangelo, Josh Harris

This doesn’t mean “the process” — stockpiling draft picks and being bad to get good — has completely changed. But things are going to look a little different in Philadelphia now.

At a press conference Monday majority owner Joshua Harris said he wants the process to move a bit more quickly. So he made a move.

Jerry Colangelo, the man who spent the past decade as the chairman of USA Basketball, has been hired as “Special Advisor to the Managing General Partner and Chairman of Basketball Operations,” the team announced. What that means is he’s got the owner’s ear and is above GM Sam Hinkie in the pecking order. His voice has vinal say.

“Jerry Colangelo is one of the most respected people in basketball and we are excited to add his five decades of knowledge, relationships and experience to help drive our organization forward,” Harris said in a released statement.

This is a smart move, but it’s as much about perception as reality.

Bringing in Colangelo looks good — to the minority owners for the Sixers tired of losing who had been vocal (off the record) in their complaints, to the fans tired of a plan they don’t see working out yet, and to agents around the league who (unless the money was better than other options) tried to steer clients away from Philly (one of the reasons no vets on the roster). Colangelo is respected around the league.

However, the changes may not be as deep as some are expecting. Starting with, it is not expected that Hinkie is going anywhere anytime soon, both according to sources I heard from and other reports around the league. Colangelo’s voice will be in the mix, and he will have the final say.

“(Hinkie) is in the position where he’ll make the call on the final decision, but that’s after a lot of collaboration with us,” Colangelo said at the press conference.

It is possible Hinkie doesn’t like being bumped down the pecking order and slides out in six months or more, or not depending on how he works with Colangelo. But he’s not out the door right now.

Also, coach Brett Brown — who has gotten this roster to play hard and has done as good a job as could be expected — is going anywhere either. From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

What all this means is don’t expect a 180, a radical shift of plans — the process will continue. As it should, just modified. With all the draft picks the Sixers have lined up the next couple seasons, the best thing that can happen to them is some lottery luck and smart drafting. Top free agents are not going to want suddenly to come to Philly, not until a foundation of young talent is put in place and given a little time to solidify. They need to get and develop that talent.

But it sounds like there will be some changes, at his press conference Colangelo threw a little shade at Hinkie.

“There seems to be a void of leadership, player wise,” Colangelo said. Meaning expect some vets to be brought in and paid a little.

Some of those stockpiled assets may be moved to make way for viable, somewhat established NBA players. That’s not a bad idea.