Lakers guards Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell were selected Wednesday to participate in the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 12 in Toronto during All-Star weekend.
Forward Julius Randle was not.
“This is an injustice,” Coach Byron Scott said Thursday. “Obviously the [NBA] assistant coaches vote on that and for whatever reason, they don’t think very highly of him. It was kind of a slap in the face because we think that he’s having a great year.”
The exhibition game is for players in their first or second seasons in a U.S. vs. world format. Ten American-born players will compete against 10 international players.
“No comments, no comments,” said Randle.
Some of his teammates took up the cause for the second-year forward, who missed all but one game last season after breaking his leg on opening night.
“Considering what he’s been through, the story, breaking his leg last year, rehabbing -- the numbers speak for themselves,” said center Roy Hibbert. “He’s leads in rebounds for sophomores in his class.”
Randle is averaging 9.6 rebounds and 10.7 points.
“It think he’s one of the best sophomores out there,” continued Hibbert. “Hands down he should be there.”
On Wednesday, Hibbert took to Twitter to make his case.
“Want to congratulate @Dloading and @JClark5on for making to the rookie sophomore game. But it’s a travesty that @J30_RANDLE didn’t make it,” he wrote, also praising Russell and Clarkson’s nods.
“It’s cool,” said Russell, on his selection. “It’s a blessing.”
Rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. also spoke up for Randle.
“Like Roy said, I agree, it’s a travesty that Julius didn’t get invited,” said Nance. “If it were up to me, he would have been there.”
“You don’t need the rookie-sophomore game to tell you you’re a great player,” he continued. "[Randle] knows that.”
Nance also wasn’t selected, but he didn’t expect to be named. He’s looking forward to going home for All-Star weekend.
“I get to spend my break in Cleveland, so I’m pretty happy,” said the Akron native.
Nance, the 27th overall pick in June, was invited by the NBA to participate in the slam dunk contest, giving him the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps -- Larry Nance Sr. won the event in its first year in 1984.
Instead, he declined, recovering from a sore knee that sidelined him recently for four games.
“The training staff said probably not the best idea until we get this thing squared away,” said Nance Jr. “I’ve got a lot of rehab to do this summer. If the NBA would like to have me at some other point....”
Nance tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in 2014. He hopes to get his right leg stronger over the off-season, although even at less than 100%, Nance is one of the most athletic players among rookies.
Mike Bresnahan contributed to this report.
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