Lakers offseason signee Luol Deng has struggled so far this season, but the forward’s shooting and scoring woes don’t worry coach Luke Walton, Mark Medina of The Orange County Register relays. “Everyone is going to get different amounts of shots from different areas each night. It is harder in that sense to know when your shots are coming,” Walton said. “But he’s a professional, in the gym and working every day before practice and staying afterwards getting treatment. I’m not concerned with him starting to knock down his shot again.”
No matter what the stat sheet says regarding Deng, his leadership and professionalism are qualities that Walton is benefiting from on a daily basis, Medina writes. Deng’s former coach, Tom Thibodeau, also raved about the forward’s intangibles, telling the scribe, “The best leadership is really the things that you do. Often times guys will say all the right things and do none of them. Luol is not overly vocal, but when there’s something important to be said, he’ll say it.”
Here’s more from out of the Pacific Division:
- Kings forward Omri Casspi, who has been mentioned in recent trade rumors, has a meeting scheduled for today with team executive Vlade Divac, Sean Cunningham of ABC 10 reports (via Twitter). Casspi, 28, has seen his playing time cut dramatically under new coach Dave Joerger, but he believes that he can help the team win, Cunningham adds.
- Suns rookie Dragan Bender‘s offensive skills are his calling card, but the young big man understands that it is his defensive development that will determine his playing time, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “I learned the hard way,” Bender said. “I came to a big club [Maccabi Tel Aviv] and thought I didn’t need to play defense because of the shooting ability and everything. But once the coach puts you on the bench and freezes you for a couple games, you realize as a young guy you have to come inside and play defense and bring the energy. Defense is just a will. It’s just a matter if you want to play it or not. You have to follow the coaches’ instructions about how you’re going to defend those teams. It doesn’t matter if you’re weak or have less muscles than those guys, you just have to fight with them for better position and get them out of there.”