Editor’s note: This is the Monday, Jan. 20 edition of the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.This mailbag comes to you from snow-coated Boston, where Anthony Davis is ready to go and so am I. Here’s a thought: The Lakers, as of Monday morning, are 34-8 and lead the Clippers by 4½ games in the standings. That’s actually a lot of games with half the season done. Last season’s No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors, finished the season 57-25 for the top spot with a three-game lead over second-place Denver. The Lakers need to go just 23-17 to match that win total, and their pace so far has been well ahead of that projection.We spend a lot of time nitpicking and wondering how they’ll look in a playoff series, which matters a great deal and which is the standard by which great Lakers teams are defined. But it’s worth pointing out how much hay is in the barn this regular season – how the Lakers have already accomplished a great deal and have set up the second half of their season to take it a little easier if they have to going into the playoffs. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersStat site FiveThirtyEight virtually guarantees the Lakers make the playoffs, have them rated as the best full-strength team, and gives them a league-best 27 percent chance to win it all. Based on what the Lakers have already done to this point.There’s a Monday dose of zen. Let’s get into the mail:@TheMariaShow_ wants to know: “Does Kidd ever talk to media and what’s the word on him this season around the team.”Jason Kidd does talk to the media with a caveat: He does not wish to talk about himself. I’ve talked to him, other reporters talk to him. He’s not been quoted a lot generally because both he and the Lakers want to put Head coach Frank Vogel’s voice out over all others, which is an understandable interest.Kidd has done a couple of interviews this year (disclosure: I’ve done one for a story that has yet to be published). One of his most recent was for an ESPN piece about Vogel’s coaching performance that was a little bit in defense of his own reputation. He told Kevin Arnovitz: “There’s always going to be chatter – it’s the Lakers,” Kidd says. “Sometimes people act like I never played a game and I’ve never been a teammate. I was a good teammate then, and I’m a good teammate now.” Kidd is very well received in the locker room. He has expertise that translates easily to players. He’s a longtime league vet, too, so he’s comfortable with the lifestyle of travel, of post-practice shooting competitions, of blending into a locker room. Players occasionally talk about concepts that Kidd brings to the table. Vogel has made clear before that Kidd felt like he “skipped some steps” in his immediate promotion to head coach of the Nets not long ago. Being a little out of the glaring spotlight of head coach might suit Kidd best for right now.The season has started out so well for Vogel, much of the joking about Kidd ready to ascend to the head spot has abated. There is tension because it’s known that Kidd was hand-picked by the Lakers rather than Vogel himself, but it’s a staff that seems to function well together, which has been balanced by Vogel’s willingness to delegate and balance out tasks. If the Lakers underachieve later in the season, the specter of Kidd will always be in the background, but for now, it’s pretty much a [email protected]_chucky wants to know: “What is the most pressing need right now? (Back up PG/wing player/stretch big)”In a recent opposing locker room availability, a team had some scouting observations posted about the Lakers on a board. It went position-by-position, touting each players’ strengths and weaknesses with some thoughts on how to defend that player, and what kind of plays they would want each Laker to be forced into.It crossed my mind as I looked it over: This team wanted almost every Laker to be forced to make plays off the dribble.The Lakers don’t have enough playmaking right now when LeBron James is off the floor. I’ve hammered this point for the whole season, but it’s still true: The Lakers have outscored opponents by 357 points when James is playing, but only by three points when he’s not. The NBA’s assist leader is on this team, but the Lakers as a team are just 12th in assist percentage (60.7 percent).While guard is a traditional place to find a playmaker, the Lakers are not built this way: The only guard who averages more than two assists per game is Rajon Rondo, whose minutes typically signify a profound drop in offensive output (108.7 offensive rating when he’s on court vs. 113.4 offensive rating when he’s off).I don’t know if backup point guard is the specific need, but the Lakers do need more playmaking. Danny Green, Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are catch-and-shoot guys and cutters, but less trustworthy when they need to make a play. Alex Caruso has limitations, even though he’s excellent in transition and serviceable to beat pressure. Quinn Cook is a better shooter than playmaker, with his size counting against him. Barring a leap from either Anthony Davis or Kyle Kuzma – it’s probably a little late in the season to hope either develops into a capable backup playmaker – it’s essentially James and Rondo who have to handle the ball for 48 minutes.This is taxing. Teams pressure James, which he can handle, but which clearly takes a toll. That toll is one of the reasons Vogel has played Rondo more at the end of games when he’s healthy. Rondo could take a leap himself, as he’s been somewhat limited by injury, and he’s well known as a playoff gamer. But if the Lakers are looking around at the trade deadline (or interested in signing Darren Collison if he actually comes out of retirement), that seems like the biggest looming issue.— Kyle GoonEditor’s note: Thanks for reading the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.A bite of the Link-ster rollA.D. on the way – The Brow is back tonight in Boston.Getting defensive – Kyle Kuzma wants to change his reputation on defense.Houston had a problem – The Rockets couldn’t stop the second-half surge and adjustments by the Lakers.LeBron changed things – Mark Heisler reflects on several defining figures of the last decade in the NBA.Road trip! – Mirjam talks about the “Grammy trip.”China balk – It’s three months later, and China is still a radioactive talking topic.Halfway mark – Four things that have defined the Lakers’ season so far, and a few things to look ahead to.Passing Kobe? – The Athletic caught up with the Black Mamba to ask about LeBron on his heels.
Troy HillCBShoulderFullFullFull— John SullivanCNot Injury RelatedDNPLimitedFull— Andre EllingtonRBQuadricepLimitedDNPDNPQuestionable Jared VeldheerTKneeLimitedLimitedFull— Mark BarronLBThumbDNPDNPLimitedQuestionable The Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams travel across the Atlantic Ocean for an NFC West showdown at Twickenham Stadium in London, Sunday, Oct. 22.Below is the official NFL Week 7 injury report for both teams. Cody DavisSThighDNPDNPDNPDoubtful Connor BarwinLBNot Injury RelatedDNPFullFull— Robert NkemdicheDLCalfLimitedLimitedLimitedQuestionable Xavier WilliamsDLKneeDNPLimitedLimitedQuestionable PlayerPositionInjuryWednesdayThursdayFridayGame Status Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Corey PetersDLKneeLimitedLimitedFull— Daily Practice Designations:DNP-Did Not ParticipateLimited-Limited Participation (Less than 100% of normal repetitions)Full-Full Participation (100% of normal repetitions)Game Status Designations:Out-Will not playDoubtful-Unlikely to playQuestionable-Uncertain if player will play Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires 27 Comments Share Olsen PierreDLAnkleDNPLimitedLimitedQuestionable Karlos DansbyLBHamstringLimitedLimitedLimitedQuestionable Lamarcus JoynerSHamstringFullFullFull— Patrick PetersonCBQuadricepLimitedLimitedFull— Top Stories Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact PlayerPositionInjuryWednesdayThursdayFridayGame Status The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Andrew WhitworthTNot Injury RelatedDNPFullLimited—