The mere presence Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson provided on Friday made several kids smile. Randle visited Grand View Boulevard Elementary in Mar Vista where he spent time on arts and crafts, painting, playing music and shooting the basketball. Clarkson attended Los Angeles Unified School District’s 95th Street Elementary School, where he addressed the importance of nutrition and exercise. It appeared newly hired Lakers coach Luke Walton impacted Randle and Clarkson the same way. Both gushed about how Walton talked with them shortly after agreeing to terms last week with the Lakers. “I’m excited about it. It’s a fresh start for us all,” Randle said. “Luke is going to be great for us and establishing the style of play we want.” Plenty of work awaits for the Lakers to remove the stench from the past two seasons in which they finished with their worst franchise record in consecutive years. The Lakers believe they sprayed some air freshener, though, by firing Byron Scott. His disciplinarian style toward his younger players sparked mixed reviews both inside and outside the organization. Yet, Clarkson stressed he “enjoyed my time with Coach” as he morphed from the Lakers’ 46th pick in the 2014 NBA draft toward a participant in the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge. Despite losing his starting spot 20 games into the 2015-16 season, Randle also dismissed whether any frustration stemmed from Scott’s demanding expectations and early-season critiques about his maturity. “I don’t think that was an issue,” Randle said. “Byron and I had plenty of dinners together. You’re always going to respect the coach, regardless.” Moments later, however, Randle revealed how Walton could jump-start the Lakers’ rebuilding process in ways Scott never could. “Luke is a younger guy and had a lot of success in Golden State,” Randle said. “He’s a perfect fit for us.” The reasons seem obvious. The 36-year-old Walton is only three years removed from an 11-year NBA career that entailed spending 10 NBA season as a key Lakers reserve on two championship teams (2009, 2010). While he lacks head-coaching experience, Walton forged an extensive resume in another way. After various stints as a University of Memphis assistant (2011 NBA lockout) and D-Fenders player development coach (2013-14), Walton spent the past two seasons as an assistant for the NBA’s defending champions. Instead of simply rolling the ball out for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Walton guided the Warriors to a 39-4 record this season as interim head coach while Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery.“He was excited with the style of play he wants to bring in here,” Clarkson recalled about his phone conversation with Walton. “I’m excited to play in his system. I definitely want to be in L.A.”Clarkson, who could become a restricted free agent this offseason, resisted comparing himself and D’Angelo Russell to Curry and Thompson. They have won an NBA championship, while Russell and Clarkson are just planting roots in the NBA. Clarkson still admitted that Walton’s work with Curry and Thompson could give him added insight on how to emulate their qualities.“We want to create our own identity, but we definitely want to play that up-tempo style and get after it defensively,” Clarkson said. “Me and D’Angelo are big guards. We don’t have a position on whether we’re a point guard, me and him. This also opens up a lot of stuff for us and even for Julius.”The Lakers already sounded high on Randle who led his sophomore class with 34 double-doubles. With Walton working extensively with Warriors forward Draymond Green, Randle expressed optimism that will help him tap into his versatility as a playmaker, bruiser and jump shooter. “There’s a lot of similarities between Draymond and I, but it’ll be a lot to learn,” Randle said. “It’ll be fun for us all to get up and down with everybody and sharing the ball. That’s going to be big for us this year.”It will also become big for the Lakers’ young core to stay active this summer.As part of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Active Schools/Active Minds Initiative, Clarkson stressed to elementary students about eating vegetables and listening to their parents. He plans to share basketball tips when he and his father, Mike, host a camp from June 6-9 at the Players Edge Sports Complex in Corona. It seemed fitting considering Clarkson has resumed training for the past two weeks at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo with development coach Thomas Scott and strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco. As Clarkson mused, “I’m not really a vacation beach guy.”“I got an itch,” Clarkson said. “I can’t stay in the house. I have to be working.” Plenty of work awaits. Clarkson is recently abstaining from contact drills and will shift focus toward defensive drills at a later time. Though he has frequently trained at the Lakers’ practice facility with Russell, Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown, Randle sounded unsure whether he wants to play on the Lakers’ Summer League team. “I’m not sure. I feel like I probably wouldn’t play,” Randle said. “I want to get better and work on my game. Especially with Luke coming in, it’s important to get that chemistry going as a team and establishing how we wanted to play. Whenever that time comes, we’ll cross that bridge.” The Lakers already crossed one bridge, though. After the Lakers hired Walton last week, Randle reported he and his teammates have frequently sent texts to each other expressing excitement about the 2016-17 campaign. That enthusiasm bubbled when Walton’s phone conversation with Randle entailed both positive reinforcement about his play and constructive feedback about his development. On a day Randle brightened kids’ spirits in a visit hosted by the Lakers, Delta and P.S. Arts, it sounded like Walton’s recent talk with Randle also brightened his mood. “It’s great to have a coach to believe in you,” Randle said. “I think that’s key, not only for the success of the player, but for the success of the team for a coach to believe in his players. We’re excited and all ready to get back to work.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error
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In this February 2014 file photo from a still image taken from a hotel security video released by TMZ Sports, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punches his fiancee, Janay Palmer, in an elevator at the Revel casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/File)ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) – A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee to an NFL executive five months ago, while Commissioner Roger Goodell has insisted the league didn’t see the violent images until this week.The person played The Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”Hours after the report Wednesday, Goodell announced former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III will conduct a probe into how the league pursued and handled evidence as it investigated claims against Rice.NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement that the investigation will be overseen by owners John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Goodell said that Mueller will have access to all NFL records and will have full cooperation from league personnel.The law enforcement official, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, says he had no further communication with any NFL employee and can’t confirm anyone watched the video. The person said he was unauthorized to release the video but shared it unsolicited, because he wanted the NFL to have it before deciding on Rice’s punishment.The NFL has repeatedly said it asked for but could not obtain the video of the Baltimore Ravens running back hitting Janay Palmer – who is now his wife – at an Atlantic City casino in February.The league says it has no record of the video, and no one in the league office had seen it until it was released by TMZ Monday. When asked about the voicemail Wednesday, NFL officials repeated their assertion that no league official had seen the video before Monday.“We have no knowledge of this,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday. “We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it.”Goodell, who was supposed to attend an award ceremony for Panthers owner Jerry Richardson in Charlotte Wednesday night, did not attend the event and instead changed his plans and headed back to New York.The law enforcement official said he sent a DVD copy of the security camera video to an NFL office and included his contact information. He asked the AP not to release the name of the NFL executive for fear that the information would identify the law enforcement official as the source.Goodell initially suspended Rice for two games following the February incident, but the Ravens released Rice on Monday and the NFL suspended him indefinitely after TMZ released the video.Goodell told CBS on Tuesday that “no one in the NFL, to my knowledge” had seen a new video of what happened on the elevator until it was posted online.“We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. But we were never granted that opportunity,” Goodell said.In a memo to the NFL’s 32 teams on Wednesday, Goodell said that the league asked law enforcement for the video, but not the casino. “In the context of a criminal investigation, information obtained outside of law enforcement that has not been tested by prosecutors or by the court system is not necessarily a reliable basis for imposing league discipline,” he wrote.A video shown to the AP on Monday is slightly longer than the TMZ version, and includes some audio.Rice and Janay Palmer – now Janay Rice – can be heard shouting obscenities at each other, and she appears to spit at Rice right before he throws a brutal punch. After she collapses, he drags her out of the elevator and is met by some hotel staff. One of them can be heard saying, “She’s drunk, right?” And then, “No cops.”Rice had been charged with felony aggravated assault in the case, but in May he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program that allowed him to avoid jail time and could lead to the charge being purged from his record. A prominent New Jersey lawmaker has called for that decision to be reviewed.Hours after portions of the video were made public by TMZ, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely and Baltimore terminated his contract. He had originally been suspended for two games, and team officials had praised him for his apologies and actions after his arrest for aggravated assault.Goodell and team officials said they were taking more severe action because of the violence in the video.Pressure mounted from outside the NFL even before the law enforcement official’s account was published. Twelve Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent Goodell a letter calling for greater transparency from the NFL, and Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said Goodell had not acted swiftly enough to punish Rice.“By waiting to act until (the video) was made public you effectively condoned the action of the perpetrator himself,” Heller wrote in a letter to Goodell. “I cannot and will not tolerate that position by anybody, let alone the National Football League.”Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said after the law enforcement official’s account that the news suggested a “burgeoning, insurmountable credibility gap” in Goodell’s statements.“If these reports are true, Commissioner Goodell must go, for the good of the NFL and its fans,” Blumenthal said in a statement.