“The Kobe Cup”
That’s Kobe Bryant’s latest plans for Italy — an exhibition tour with some kind of cup to play for. Those plans of him playing even one game for Virtus Bologna are toast, according to Sportando, but his plans to return to Italy and play some games will not die. More accurately, Virtus owner Claudio Sabatini was jonesing for another public relations fix, so here we are.
As per La Gazzetta dello Sport, Claudio Sabatini and Rob Pelinka are still working silently to bring Kobe Bryant to Italy during the NBA lockout. The last idea is to organize three exhibition tournaments in Bologna, Roma and Milano with three teams for any stage. All the games would last 24 minutes with two quarters by 12′. Sabatini wants to involve also a foreign team because his idea is to sell the TV rights also abroad. The winner of the mini-tournament will lift the prestigious Kobe Cup. The three exhibition games will be organized, if the deal is going to be finalized, from the end of October till the beginning of November.
“The prestigious Kobe Cup?” Shouldn’t we let the cup actually get made and the games scheduled first?
This has about as much a chance of happening as “Real Steel” does of winning the Oscar for Best Picture. Sorry Hugh Jackman.
But an exhibition tour of some kind makes a lot more sense than Kobe playing for a team overseas. If the labor talks do fall apart in the next couple weeks, talks of overseas tours could pick up steam.
The Detroit Pistons’ playoff dreams hinged on them being able to hang around until point guard Reggie Jackson got back from this thumb and knee injuries. They have done just that — the Pistons are 11-10 and would be the eighth seed if the playoffs started today.
And now they get Jackson back. Stan Van Gundy made the announcement Sunday at shootaround, before the team takes on the Orlando Magic.
It will take a few games to get his conditioning back, but this is huge for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of Detroit’s offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. Ish Smith played well for the Pistons in his absence — 10.8 points per game, 6.4 assists, and he’s been solid. Move his playmaking to the second unit and suddenly the Pistons become a lot more dangerous.
The scouting report on Jakob Poeltl coming out of Utah said he could run the floor well and he was a good finisher around the rim.
But we didn’t expect this.
During the Raptors win Sunday against the stumbling Hawks, Poeltl filled the lane on the break, got the rock, and nobody was going to stop that finish. Least of all Tim Hardaway Jr., he just ends up in the poster.
Entering free agency last July, Hassan Whiteside said his first choice was to stay in Miami — then Pat Riley gave him 98 million reasons to stick around. While the Heat have been up and down this season, Whiteside has thrived as the franchise player in Miami.
Last July he also met with Dallas, but it turns out that was not his second choice. Here is what Whiteside told Erik Gunderson of the Miami Herald before his team fell to the Blazers on Saturday.
“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside said at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”
Interesting. There were reports the Blazers chased Whiteside, but it didn’t seem that serious. Apparently, it was. If The Blazers got Whiteside, would they still have spent $70 million on Evan Turner? Probably not. And suddenly a lot of things look better in Portland.
For Blazers fans, watching their team try to outscore opponents while playing terrible defense this season — in part because of a lack of rim protection behind their undersized guards — it’s easy to imagine how much Whiteside would have changed the picture in the Northwest. But at this point, that’s just fan fiction.
JaVale McGree has become a solid contributor for the Warriors off the bench, giving them a needed shot blocking presence. He’s not getting a ton of run (seven minutes a night), but he’s efficient when he’s out there.
Still, there is his reputation as the guy most likely to end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. He hasn’t done anything like that for a while… until Saturday night, when after a made free throw he tried to inbound the ball for the Suns for a second.
The Warriors bench was laughing under their shirts and towels.