We can all agree that the Clippers looked good against the Lakers the other night. But the other half of that is the Lakers picked up their defense from right where they left off in Game 4 against Dallas last playoffs. The Lakers were slow and soft, particularly on the perimeter.
After the game, new coach Mike Brown called them out on it. Everyone. Including Kobe Bryant, saying he “was as guilty as everyone else” in not contesting Clippers shots on the perimeter.
Cue the ominous music.
How did Kobe react to the new coach naming him to the media? He’s good. Here are his quotes, via the Daily News.
“We’re here to be coached. I’m here to be coached just like everybody else, you know what I mean? It’s important for everybody to understand that. If I make a mistake, it’s the coach’s job to correct that. You can’t be sensitive or a baby. You’re here to win. That’s his job. I would upset if he was just letting me skate through things. You make mistakes, it’s the coach’s job to point that out. If he can’t point that out to me, he has no chance of pointing it out to anybody else….
“What I heard about him was he was a pushover, doesn’t say what he’s thinking,” Bryant said. “I haven’t seen that at all. He’s been the complete opposite. He’s been detail oriented. He’s been up front and open and honest. He praises guys when they do well. He jumps on them when they’re messing up right away. He does that me. He does that with Pau (Gasol). He does that with (Devin) Ebanks. There’s no difference. I’ve been extremely, extremely surprised and very, very pleased about that.”
Mike Brown’s reputation for not being willing to criticize stars is more a Dan Gilbert phenomenon than Brown. The orders in Cleveland came from the top down not to antagonize LeBron James, not to do anything that might have him leaving the team. So from letting his friends hang around to not criticizing him in film sessions, LeBron got to skate. That wasn’t Brown, that was the owner.
Brown is not bound by such restraints in Los Angeles. And he’s going to need to be honest and up front with everyone if the Lakers are to have any chance this year (and even that may well not be enough).
Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:
After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:
The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.
Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.
It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.
In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.
This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.
At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.
Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.
But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.
Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.
But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.
Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.
Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”
The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.
There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.
But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.
Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:
In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.