Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett and Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol compete for the ball in Boston

Kobe thinks the trade talks are playing games with Pau’s heart… with Pau’s heart


I’m sorry for that reference, first of all.

The Lakers continue to be mired in constant flux. The vetoed Chris Paul trade kicked off a season of uncertainty that has continued. Pau Gasol is constantly discussed in rumors. And Kobe Bryant thinks it’s affecting Gasol negatively. From the Los Angeles Times:

Though it appears pointing out a descrepancy involves splitting hairs, Bryant believes reports linking Gasol in a trade has made it “an emotional couple of days for him.”

“Personally I don’t understand that crap,” Bryant said regarding the Lakers’ effort to trade Gasol. “But it is what it is. It’s important for him to know we support him. I support him especially. I just want him to go out there and play hard and do what he does best for us.”

via Kobe Bryant: Trade speculation has made Pau Gasol emotional –

Two thoughts on this.

1. Gasol is developing a reputation for letting his emotions impact his play. Lady troubles last spring were heavily discussed as the reason he completely vanished against the Mavericks. This is probably a bit unfair. Everyone goes through personal troubles, and it’s not like the Mavericks didn’t scheme well against Gasol. But admitting it publicly isn’t going to win you any friends with the fans. Playing through it is part of the job, and everyone in the league has to deal with trade rumors. Well, besides Kobe and a handful of others.

2. How can Bryant be surprised by this? The Lakers have a long-standing history of being devoid of emotion when it comes to players. They are about the organization first and foremost. No one is bigger than the Lakers. That’s what happens when your best player is Magic Johnson and the bar is set that high. Jerry West and Shaquille O’Neal have complicated relationships with the organization. The Logo! Shaq won three titles! Bryant may not agree with it, but he has to understand it. This is their approach. Always try and improve.

It also shows how different and honestly, tougher the league is from three years ago. The Gasol trade combined with the formation of the Big 3 in Boston kicked off the new era of superteams, which is what makes this league so much more difficult and leads to Bryant-Gasol-Bynum no longer being enough to dominate. The thing they created is now threatening to tear the team apart. So it goes.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Can Thunder win 60 games?

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Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are healthy — just how good will the Thunder be?

The bold prediction in this PBT Extra preview with Jenna Corrado is that the Thunder will win 60 games, something they have not yet done. I wouldn’t bet on them hitting that number — with a new coach, and them making sure Durant and Westbrook get rest coming off injuries, plus the fact they’re in the deep West, that number may be high.

I think they have a better chance to come out of the West than win 60 games. I think they have a good shot to come out of the West.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”