On Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers met for practice following a victory the night before, a feel good 132-113 win over the last place Atlanta Hawks that ended a nine-game skid. Understandably, the mood was lighter and more positive come Monday morning.
"You could feel it in the energy in here," Lakers coach Luke Walton, who was a bit under the weather, said following the Monday session. "People are in better moods when you win."
With Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Rob Pelinka, the duo that leads the team's front office, watching from above, the Lakers went through a practice that consisted of a long film session and some basic fundamentals drills. Walton said the schedule doesn't afford the opportunity to go too hard in practice with games coming every other day.
Walton also shared that he planned to speak to Johnson, who is the Lakers President of Basketball Operations, after practice, as the Lakers' organization has been mum on supporting its coach while he's been taking heat from the outspoken parent of his rookie point guard. Lonzo Ball's father recently made news by hypothesizing to ESPN that Walton had lost the locker room and that his player were no longer playing for the coach.
Asked if he liked playing for Walton on Sunday, Ball provided the flimsiest of endorsements by stating, "I'll play for anybody."
On Monday, Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma offered his support for Walton in far more clear and certain terms.
"Luke is my guy," Kuzma said. "I love playing for him. I'm sure most of us love playing for him, too."
The rookie forward said that he took issue with the idea that the team quit on Walton and confidently added, "We stand by Luke. I know the front office does."
Thus far, thought, the front office has not publicly come out to support its under fire coach, and the Lakers are currently last in the Western Conference and have lost 12 of their last 14 games. Pelinka and Johnson did not appear to be in any hurry to speak to the reporters gathered at the facility on Monday.
With the Lakers constantly drawing attention and making headlines for all the right and wrong reasons, the 22-year-old forward out of Michigan also gave his unique view on the state of sports news coverage as a whole and the environment a rookie enters in the modern NBA.
"It's kind of hard in our society. Social media is so big in our lives," Kuzma said. "It's all over the place. ESPN puts out anything for clicks now, it kind of seems like. It's all over the place. You can't really hide from it. It's just a thing that you have to deal with it and just move past it. No other generation of NBA players have had to deal with what we have to deal with in our era. It's a little different, but you just have to try to block it out as much as you can."
Kuzma also provided the quote of the day when asked why his production had fallen off in recent games. The forward out of Utah had failed to score in double figures in two of his previous four games after averaging 19.5 points per game for the month of December and hitting the double figures mark in 12 of 14 games to close out 2017.
Kuzma said in a nonchalant, brilliant manner, "You can't be Superman all year, so..."
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Finally Back Home
Stemming from a DUI while he was a member of the Detroit Pistons, Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had been ordered to stay in the state of California for 25 days to complete a program that forced the guard to stay overnight at a detention facility, away from his family over the holidays.
On Monday morning, "KCP" was finally back home with his loved ones after completing the court ordered program. He is also now available to travel with the team outside of California and should not miss any more games due to the issue. The forward said he had paid he debt and did not have any lingering requirement related to the case.
"I'm just happy to be home," Caldwell-Pope said on Monday.