Lakers, out of their comfort zone, try to connect in unique NBA environment

first_img Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Technical issues aside, Vogel called Hollins one of the most vocal coaches on staff, even though he’s not physically in Florida.“There’s value in that. Not having him here is not the ideal situation, but the ability to see things from afar, with a different lens, than seeing it up close, gives us all a different perspective,” he said. “So I think there’s strength in what he’s bringing to the table, and we’re happy to utilize him in that way.”Beats being a cone. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — This time last year, Rob Pelinka was introducing Anthony Davis, one of the biggest prizes of the offseason, at a celebratory press conference and putting finishing touches on what figured to be a championship-contending team.Fast forward to now, where the Lakers’ general manager is one of just 36 people in the team travel party, meaning everyone has to wear the odd hat here and there.One of Pelinka’s jobs? Dribble cone. During a recent practice, he lined up on the court at one elbow, opposite of coach Frank Vogel, and players ran around him in a drill. Pelinka has basketball experience as a former player at the University of Michigan, and all hands are on deck for short-staffed practices at Disney World. So sometimes Vogel gets to boss around … his boss.“That’s always a good reversal, right? Doesn’t everybody wish we could do that for a little bit?” Vogel grinned during a Thursday media call. “He’s been wonderful. Obviously, he’s led our group with the encouragement that everybody is going to be used in flex staffing and willing to do any job to help out.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe business of getting back to basketball is accompanied by the strangeness of the surroundings: On the Disney campus, everyone is always together (although social-distancing rules and masks are technically in effect) and everyone is doing something at least a little unusual.For the players, being on campus has a throwback feel: Jared Dudley compared it to when he went through draft workouts more than a decade ago; Quinn Cook said it was like an AAU tournament when all the competitors stay in the same hotel. Many of the league’s players are on friendly terms, but players expect that intensity could turn up once scrimmages begin next week and games begin July 30.Come the playoffs, Dudley said, tensions could be high for players on opposing teams sharing hotels or campus space.“It’s OK for now,” Dudley said, a little tongue-in-cheek. “I think it’s going to be a little bit different when games start playing and it should be when that starts happening. One team is down in the series and you might see them in the elevator and seeing that – so they might need to add a little more security coming here shortly.”In the meantime, the players who don’t go directly to their rooms have embraced a bit of that unique mixing in the necessarily isolated environment of the “bubble.” That includes LeBron James, who Yahoo reported earlier this week traveled without members of his team (chef, masseuse, added security) to help the Lakers fit their travel party within NBA parameters. Boston’s Kemba Walker mentioned in an interview with Bleacher Report that he found it unique to see James mixing freely, which is sometimes hard to do in public at his level of star power.center_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Vogel noted while some players take their meals to their room, he’s seen James eating outdoors with teammates. Cook, who has known James for years before joining the Lakers this season, said James has stayed as grounded as ever while getting used to life on campus, striking up conversations with opposing players and members of the security staff alike.“A guy with that type of platform doesn’t have to do that, but he makes everybody feel special, especially in the NBA family,” Cook said. “He’s always been the same since I’ve known him. Curious about everyone and one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen.”Of course, that idyllic portrait of fraternity has been tested in recent days by reports of players using a campus tip line – derisively called “the snitch line” by players and media – to report on other restart attendees. Dwight Howard claimed on a Wednesday night Instagram live stream that he was reported for not wearing a mask around campus. It’s unclear if Sacramento’s Richaun Holmes or Houston’s Bruno Cabaclo were called in when they were caught violating the initial quarantine – they are now in the midst of 10-day resets – but the incidents heightened awareness and dialogue about the tip line.While Clippers coach Doc Rivers joked about the concept saying he would call tips in on each of his potential foes, other players said they were not interested in using the tip line, or had pushed it out of mind. Dudley said he had yet to see threatening enough behavior to warrant using it.“I don’t take it serious in the sense of no one is doing anything harmful,” he said. “Now if you want to be petty and tattletale on this, I mean, we’re all in the same hotel, we all have the same rules, no one is getting any extra privileges. The only (violations) could really be the mask or six feet apart. But we test daily, we’re all negative, so we’ve still got to live our lives and try to make the best of the situation.”Life on campus also includes those who are not present: Vogel said Lionel Hollins, who did not travel after being flagged for health concerns, is a part of daily morning Zoom meetings and watches practice through video feeds. During a recent Lakers practice, Vogel said he attempted to “shout out” to Hollins during a drill the team was running that the assistant would normally oversee – but he shouted into the wrong camera.Related Articles Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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