Report: Kobe Bryant “surprised” Lakers to hire Brown

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Superstars are used to being consulted.

So the report of Kobe Bryant’s reaction to the Lakers being on the verge of hiring former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, from Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, says a lot about how this decision was made. And maybe about how it will be received in the locker room.

The source close to the Lakers told SI.com that Lakers star Kobe Bryant was “surprised” by the news, and that he was not a part of the decision-making process. Bryant had been a staunch supporter of Lakers assistant Brian Shaw for the position and remains as such.

We should note that saying Kobe is surprised is different than saying he is unhappy with the decision. It also doesn’t mean he will not be spoken to before ink hits paper on the deal. Still, he was not in the loop on the process. How he buys in will go a long way to determining Brown’s success.

Shaw represented the Lakers continuing with a similar style — of offense, of coaching — that they had under Phil Jackson.

Jim Buss and the Lakers brass clearly wanted a change in that. Brown is a big shift, an attempt to change the direction of the ship.

The question is how well that will work.

The Lakers don’t really need an Xs and Os guru — they have a lot of high basketball IQ players with Kobe, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derrick Fisher, Andrew Bynum and on down the line. They have guys who know how to play, whatever the system.

What Jackson was able to do brilliantly was get those guys to play as a unit, to sacrifice, to win together. (Up until this season, when fatigue of mind, body and the message wore them down.) Can Mike Brown do that? He can bring in energy and push a defense-first agenda, but can he get them to bond and play as a unit the way Jackson has done (and did in Chicago before)?

That is the real question and the real risk with this hire.

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.

Report: Clippers PG Patrick Beverley out rest of season

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Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.

The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.

They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).

Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.

The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.

Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.

The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.

The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Suns Eric Bledsoe revenge game

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Giannis Antetokounmpoone of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.

Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.

Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.

“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”

The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.

I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.