Lakers’ players trying to adjust to Byron Scott’s random rotations

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LOS ANGELES — Jeremy Lin went from around 15 minutes a game to more than 30 minutes, to a DNP-CD, to almost 30 minutes again — and that was all in the span of two weeks.

Ronnie Price used to be the starter, now he’s the third point guard in the rotation. Nick Young has seen his minutes fall (although there may be good reasons for that). And that list goes on and on.

There is a randomness to the Lakers rotations, a lack of consistency that has left the players — who like a routine and rhythm — searching. And wanting.

After Sunday night’s Lakers loss to the Rockets Lin was asked about dealing with the inconsistent minutes. He just basically shrugged, took a long pause, then said, “I guess you just control what you can control… I mean, the only thing you can get used to is you don’t know what’s coming next. And that’s kinda been true this whole season.”

Lakers coach Byron Scott says before pretty much every game that he’s got his starters but will let the flow of the game dictate his rotations. That is not changing for a while.

“The starting five I have out there now, I’m going to keep that for a while,” Scott said. “I’m going to fluctuate with some of the substations just based on what I see on the court and what they are giving me as well, It could be different each and eery game for the next 15 to 20 games.”

That starting five is rookie Jordan Clarkson at the point, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre. Even their minutes are not guaranteed. After that Carlos Boozer was the first guy off the bench Sunday, followed by Lin, Ed Davis and Nick Young.

More than just up and down minutes, the lineups change nightly, with new combinations all the time.

“I feel like, at this point it’s kind of like everybody has probably played with everybody,” Lin said. “So whatever lineup is out there, you have to do your best. You go out there and play. Maybe not worry about the little things, but just go out there and attack, run the plays hard and see what happens.”

To be fair, this is more than Scott’s nature, his hand was forced n some cases. He entered the season with a healthy Kobe Bryant and a team he thought could make the playoffs. But Scott struggled to find rotations that worked and he started to realize this team wasn’t as talented as his opponents most nights. He was searching for answers. Then Kobe’s body needed more rest, adding another level of randomness to the mix — would the guy the Lakers’ run their offense through play or not? Now they unfortunately know the answer to that question.

Pile on some other injuries to the team and Scott has struggled to have guys for the rotations he wants.

That said, he is not the only coach dealing with these issues — go ask Scott Brooks or Flip Saunders about it — yet Scott’s response has been experimentation, which continues halfway through the season. And not knowing if you will play, or how many minutes, or with whom, or in what role, starts to throw players off.

“I think it effects, for me, my rhythm level maybe,” Lin said. “And I think to some degree your confidence level. My confidence level, it’s just you don’t see yourself doing certain things.”

You may want to be careful about having a Lakers’ player on your fantasy roster the rest of the season. Because the randomness will continue.

Chris Paul playing cornhole. Luka Doncic trick shots. Welcome to life in the NBA bubble.

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Teams have emerged from quarantine in the Walt Disney World campus in Orlando, getting some run in on the court, and are starting to explore life in the NBA bubble.

Then they are documenting it on social media.

For example, Chris Paul and Darius Bazley played some cornhole.

Dallas’ Luka Doncic was hitting trick shots on the court.

Then Doncic and Boban Marjanovic were doing Disney Channel ads.

Complaints about the food by players have died down, in part because they are out of quarantine and get a choice of restaurants, in part because they saw the backlash and realized the complaints looked elitist. Or maybe it’s just the Mickey pancakes.

Everyone is out and exploring the campus and having fun…

Well, except for Robin Lopez, who sees no reason to leave his room.

Zion Williamson “just went back to square one” with quarantine workouts

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Zion Williamson looks cut — like he spent the entire quarantine doing workouts — and ready to be a force at the NBA restart in Orlando.

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Built for this 💪

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What workouts did Zion Williamson do during the break to get that look? He took everything back down to step one and built it up again working out with his stepfather Lee Anderson, Williamson told reporters on Friday (hat tip Andrew Lopez of ESPN):

“It just felt like I was 5 years old again,” Williamson said Friday. “Just went back to square one, tried to get my body where it needs to be, get my fundamentals back to square one and start from there. So yeah, it was just like starting over at 5 again. It was a great process to learn it all over.”

Williamson did a little more than that. He also had approval from the league to go to the Pelicans practice facility throughout the quarantine and get treatment on his knee, the one that kept him out the first 45 games of the season. So he stayed healthy.

He also worked on other aspects of this game, such as his jump shot. Williamson took 76.7% of his shot attempts at the rim this season, and while getting to the rim is critical to his game, he’s going to have confidence in his shot and knock down jumpers to reach higher levels in the league.

The Pelicans enter the bubble 3.5 games back of Memphis for the eighth seed in the West, and with the softest schedule of any team in Orlando (matching their schedule before the interruption), they have a legitimate chance of forcing a two-game play-in series. It’s not easy, but there is a path to the playoffs for New Orleans (setting up a Zion vs. LeBron James first-round showdown that league broadcast partners are drooling over).

A stronger, improved Zion could help get the Pelicans there.

Paul George: “I feel great again,” says Clippers finally fully healthy

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Paul George symbolized the Clippers’ health all season long. George missed the first 11 games of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, then all season long it was still a lingering issue — until the suspension of play gave him time to heal.

“The whole season, all the way up until maybe a month or two ago, I had to always do shoulder rehab stuff, warming the shoulder up,” George said Friday on a conference call with reporters. “Just so much went into stuff I had to do before I actually took a foot on the floor. Now I feel great again.”

It wasn’t just Paul George, the Clippers had Kawhi Leonard managing his knee/thigh issue and an assortment of other injuries that didn’t give Doc Rivers the full arsenal at his disposal. That was until around the All-Star break — after that break Los Angeles went 7-2 with a +11.5 net rating that was best in the league by far.

The season being shut down may have halted that momentum, but it also gave a banged-up Los Angeles roster a chance to get healthy.

“For this team, man, I think our aspirations, again, this time off has given us what we needed,” George said. “We had some guys that was banged up, nagging injuries. The more time gave us more time for us to aid those injuries and to get back to 100.”

Health matters — which is why Montrez Harrell brought his own personal, portable sauna, a secret Reggie Jackson let out of the bag.

Health matters to Rivers, too, but what he wants more is that team chemistry back — and the Clippers have a long way to go on that end in Rivers’ eyes.

“This is not a normal way of starting back,” Rivers said of the mini-training camp all 22 teams at the NBA restart will get in Orlando. “Usually going into training camp, guys have been scrimmaging for three and four weeks, they’ve been playing, shooting on hoops. That’s not happening. This is a group, some of the guys have not touched a basketball or seen a gym until two weeks ago. We got a lot of work to do on both ends.”

The Clippers are not alone, every team is going to take time to find its rhythm again. Pick-and-roll combos need to get used to reading each other (and the defense) again at full speed, defensive rotations will be a step slow, and a few passes are going to head into the bench rather than the player in the corner.

When the Clippers get that rhythm back, with a healthy roster — finally — they again become a legitimate threat to win it all.

First, they just need to navigate the bubble. And maybe borrow Harrell’s sauna.

Atlanta G League affiliate promotes Tori Miller, first female GM in league

Tori Miller
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The Atlanta Hawks aren’t just talking about progress and giving Black women a chance. They are acting.

The College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s G-League affiliate, has promoted Tori Miller to general manager. She is the first female GM in the G-League.

Miller, who grew up in Decatur (a city next to Atlanta), had worked for the team in Erie (when they were the Bayhawks) and followed the team with its move closer to its parent franchise. Miller served as an assistant GM last season before being promoted.

G League front office positions can be a stepping stone into an NBA front office.

The Hawks progressive move comes just as the team’s WNBA franchise, the Dream, has players trying to oust co-owner Kelly Loeffler, a Republican Georgia U.S. Senator, because she advocated against the league supporting Black Lives Matter. Loeffler has said she will not sell. It’s a problem not going away anytime soon.