Matt Barnes has an incredible tendency to get on his opponents’ nerves, and it’s easy to understand why. Barnes never stops talking. He’s no stranger to the hard foul or the occasional cheap shot. He holds, he pushes, he yaps, and he plays hard. That’s not the kind of thing that makes for an ideal opponent, and it’s safe to say that during his time with the Magic, Barnes got under the skin of a few notable Lakers.
All water under the bridge, as time — or really, free agency — heals all wounds. Barnes, while on Into the Night with Tony Bruno on Fox Sports Radio, had this to say about his current relationship with Bryant (as transcribed by Sports Radio Interviews, link via Marcel Mutoni):
“Kobe has been the driving force behind this. I have been talking to Kobe back and forth like we were boyfriend and girlfriend for the last two weeks and sending us texts and talking. It feels good when you have the best player in the world in your corner and Kobe is definitely in my corner. He sent me a crazy text message today saying something like, anyone crazy enough to mess with me is crazy enough to play with me. So I think that was a good tone to set and I think I am ready to be a Laker.”
These are good times in Los Angeles. Andrew Bynum is on the mend, the Lakers picked up a few helpful free agents to add to their championship core, and Bryant and Barnes have been texting sweet nothings to one another late into the night. We knew the Lakers were going to be good next season, but throw in Barnes for good measure, and L.A. has a much-improved bench.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.