James Worthy sees some Magic Johnson-like traits in Lonzo Ball and believes his old Showtime point guard will be able to “deliver” some star reinforcements in free agency this summer. Before the season started, Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations, said he can envision Ball and Brandon Ingram running the floor like Johnson and Worthy did during their Showtime days. Johnson set an extremely high bar for the past two No. 2 overall picks respectively. “Big shoes to fill,” said Worthy, currently a Lakers analyst for Spectrum SportsNet. “But I think I totally get conceptually where Magic was coming from and the style of play that Luke [Walton] is promoting, the fast-paced game. Lonzo Ball, for sure, presents some of the talents that Magic had. Not as tall, but he is 6-6 and has the IQ, has a vision like no other. “As soon as players get used to the way he passes and they get some really good shooters around him, I think people will really appreciate him. And they already have appreciated what he brings to the table, a very unselfish player.”
He also has worked on himself mentally. Last season, his trainer suggested he try meditation. This season, it has become part of his morning routine. He won’t give up many details about it because then “people might try to take it and be who I am,” but it has worked. By paying mind to his breathing every morning, it has helped him focus throughout the day. “Emotions come and go, you know,” Oubre said. “A lot of energies, a lot of forces tug at you and in order to reach your soul’s full potential, you have to be able to conquer who is inside.”
Utah Jazz_ Rookie @spidadmitchell is presented with his Rookie of the Month award for a stellar December 🏀🕷🏀
Leuer, 28, has scheduled the procedure for next Friday and will have a four-month rehabilitation process. “It’s extremely frustrating. Disappointing, anger, all those emotions … we were trying to do whatever we could to avoid this,” Leuer told The News. “I knew even a month and a half ago when I saw the specialist that he kind of suggested (surgery) right away, but we wanted to see if we could try to manage the pain and hopefully get through the season.
“There’s a bone fragment stuck in my ligament on the inside. It’s in the joint, so it’s causing a lot of sharp pain every time I jump and run — even light running and jumping,” Leuer said. “They’re going to take that out. I had a pain on the outside of my ankle too, so they’re going to clean that up and take out a piece of cartilage. “It’s not necessarily from the (last) injury I had. I rolled it a lot; they think it’s an accumulation of things. You don’t know for sure, but the last ankle sprain aggravated it and things moved around in there.”
However, Hornacek insisted Mills and GM Scott Perry have not changed the long-term plan for the Knicks. An NBA source confirmed nothing has changed, that playoffs has never been the No. 1 priority for management this season as they hold their own first-round pick in the last year of the current lottery format. “In Phoenix, the plan was rebuilding and [we] got off and had a great year,’’ Hornacek said. “Then the expectations changed, the mentality changed. Here we talked about rebuilding and got off to a good start because we had a lot of home games. But Scott, Steve, we’re still on the same page, giving our young guys opportunities. We’re still trying to win games. We want to establish where we have an identity defensively [that] we’re going to get after it all the time. We’re building toward that and it’s great to have that support.’’
The Portland Trail Blazers have hired Don Vaden in a consulting role to help educate the team on rules of the game and officiating, the team announced on Friday. “He’s going to be a resource for the coaches (and) the players,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “As far as understanding some of the rules, interpretations, knowing the referees, style of refereeing, I think he’s just going to be a tremendous resource.”