Pacific Notes: White, Kelly, Lakers

March 22 at 1:01pm CST By Cray Allred

Gregg Popovich has long been in Kings coach Michael Malone‘s corner, explaining to The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones why he endorsed Malone when Malone sought his first NBA head coaching gig. “In an NBA season, there’s all kinds of ups and downs, and you have to be able to roll with all of them,” Popovich said. “I just thought he had that edge, that toughness and the obvious sense for the game and that he could be successful. That’s why I went to bat for him.” More from the Pacific:

    • After playing his first minute of NBA action last night, Royce White tells Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com that he plans to attend every game with the Kings as long as he’s under contract, including road games requiring flying. White is optimistic about his stay in Sacramento working out better than his time with the Rockets, who drafted him and eventually traded him after failing to resolve issues surrounding his mental health. “In all fairness to Houston, they were in a much different position. A lot of things, they couldn’t make a ruling on themselves as much as the league. They had to wait on a lot of OKs and things from people. It was a real complex situation. But [this] feels very different.” said White. “I’m definitely feeling more comfortable with the ability to have a successful career in this league.”
    • Rookie Ryan Kelly is trying to prove that he deserves to remain with the Lakers next season, he tells Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times.  “I’ve seen it as an opportunity to let not only the Lakers organization know but the rest of the league know that I deserve a spot in this league,” Kelly said. Kelly will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Lakers extend a qualifying offer of just over $1MM.
    • Lakers owner Jeanie Buss doesn’t believe Phil Jackson‘s presence in New York will hurt her team’s appeal for free agents, she said in an interview with ESPN 710 (transcription via Mike Bresnahan and Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times). “I think the Lakers are a legacy franchise. Players know when they come here this is the ultimate platform… I’m not worried about that in any way, shape or form,” said Buss.
    • Buss added that the Lakers‘ struggles don’t effect the Buss family’s long-term commitment to keep and run the team.
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