Luke Walton inherited from his father the genetic gifts needed to be an NBA player, plus the gene that makes you like the Grateful Dead. But he also seems to have inherited his father’s debilitating back issues.
Those issues have kept the younger Walton on the Lakers bench much of the last two seasons, frustrating Lakers fans, coaches and Walton himself. Now comes in new coach Mike Brown and a new offensive system not likely to match Walton’s skill set like the triangle did (when healthy Walton worked well in Tex Winter’s design).
Walton has popped up on the list of guys most likely to get waived under the new “amnesty clause” that will be part of the labor deal. He is owed $11.5 million over two seasons and is still injured, so he’s a likely target. But over at ESPN they say something else could happen.
One team insider said that Walton, though just 31, has indeed begun to contemplate retirement because of a debilitating back condition, with Walton himself telling ESPN.com’s Andy Katz earlier this summer that he’s seen multiple doctors who have advised him to stop playing.
I could see why Walton would consider retirement. He feels his back pain, sees everything his father has gone through and realizes that is not where he wants to be.
But I can think of 11.5 million reasons Walton is not going to retire. Maybe in a couple of years when his contract is up, and maybe if he does get waived (he still gets paid the money if he gets waived, it’s just that with the amnesty clause it doesn’t count against the Lakers’ books).
But not now, because $11.5 million can pay for one to follow Phish around for a long time. He’s not going to walk away from that.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.