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Lakers in review: Summer league struggle, veteran additions introduced

Brandon Bass, a 6-foot-8 forward, chats with 7-2 center Roy Hibbert after the Lakers' introductory news conference on Wednesday in El Segundo.

Brandon Bass, a 6-foot-8 forward, chats with 7-2 center Roy Hibbert after the Lakers’ introductory news conference on Wednesday in El Segundo.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers sent nearly half of the team’s roster for the 2015-16 season to Las Vegas, to play in the NBA’s summer league.

While the squad featured rookie D’Angelo Russell, and second-year player Julius Randle (who lost almost his entire first season because of a broken leg on opening night), the Lakers were not impressive at summer league.

The young players didn’t especially stand out, though many of the top prospects around the league were also shaky.

The Lakers finished as the 11th seed in the NBA’s summer tournament with a 1-2 record. The team fell to the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz in tournament play, ending with one win in five tries. The Lakers did draw record ratings on Time Warner Cable, despite the outcome on the floor.

Coach Byron Scott said Russell is “not Magic Johnson,” and will need some time to adjust to the NBA.

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Randle was frustrated by limited court time, allowed to play in just five-minute bursts with a 20-minute per game cap, as a preventative measure.

The Lakers introduced their three veteran acquisitions on Wednesday. Roy Hibbert hopes to reestablish himself as one of the top defensive centers in the league. Guard Lou Williams will give the Lakers scoring, probably off the bench.

Forward Brandon Bass may compete for a starting spot with Randle.

The Lakers may have improved over last season’s 21-61 debacle, but still have a high number of questions among low expectations.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak noted the Lakers still have needs, but are running out of roster slots. Kupchak said the team could use another point guard and center, presuming Kobe Bryant and Nick Young handle the small forward position.

Trainer Gary Vitti, who has cared for Lakers legends and nears the end of his watch, said Bryant is prepared to play at the three-spot for the team this season.

Young said he’s looking forward to the season, while trying to ignore trade rumors.

Meanwhile, Paul Pierce called the Clippers the next best choice after the Lakers.

Finally, Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen engaged in an epic smack battle, comparing the Chicago Bulls and Lakers’ championship squad with O’Neal and Bryant.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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