Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is pleased with coach Byron Scott‘s tough-love approach with the team’s younger players and takes offense at the notion that Scott is stifling their development, writes Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times. “If you asked our young players, I think there would be a mutual respect, as you might expect maybe between a parent and a child,” Kupchak said. “In other words, I’m going to love you, I’m going to bring you along, but every now and then, I’ve got to teach you the right way to do things.”
Kupchak also told Bresnahan that Kobe Bryant‘s retirement tour is actually a benefit to the team’s young roster since the attention paid to the veteran deflects much of the spotlight away from the other players. “I guess there was some backlash to the comment that we can’t move on until Kobe retires,” Kupchak said. “There’s no doubt this season is in great part a tribute to him and what he’s meant for this organization. It’s what he deserves, it’s what we want to give him, it’s what the fans want and it’s a justifiable tribute to his career. Having said all that, to think that we’re not developing our young players? I mean, who’s starting? Larry Nance. Anthony Brown. And Jordan Clarkson. Who’s playing 20 to 30 minutes a game? Julius Randle. D’Angelo Russell. In fact, Kobe gives the younger guys a chance to fly under the radar a little bit. They can make mistakes. Maybe they don’t get the attention they normally get under a normal season. On top of that, they get to learn by being around Kobe.”
Here’s more news out of the Western Conference:
- The NBPA has filed a grievance on behalf of Grizzlies small forward Matt Barnes that appeals his two-game unpaid suspension for the off-court altercation he had in October with Knicks coach Derek Fisher, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports. Barnes will lose $64,409 in salary because of the suspension if it is upheld. This appeal will ensure that Barnes is able to take the court this Saturday when the Grizzlies square off against the Knicks in Memphis.
- Portland GM Neil Olshey raved about the performance of Terry Stotts and cited the coach’s improvement over his time with the Trail Blazers in an appearance on “The Vertical” hosted by Wojnarowski (audio link). Stotts has a team option on his contract for next season.
- Suns power forward Markieff Morris is excited about his expanded role in the team’s rotation that’s come about because Alex Len is sidelined with a sprained right hand, though Morris is not sure if he will remain in the regular lineup regardless of how long Len is out, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic relays.