The 2012 NBA All-Stars had their first mass media availability session of the weekend on Friday, and everyone who was named to the team managed to show up and tolerate the wide-ranging and sometimes-inane questions from both traditional and non-traditional media outlets.
Everyone, that is, except Kobe Bryant.
Bryant was a no-show to the festivities, which was a disappointment to the 50-75 media members who had camped out at his table since the beginning of the Western Conference’s scheduled time, and stayed all the way up until the very end. About two minutes before it was all over, an NBA spokesman informed those waiting that Bryant was “ill” and would not be in attendance.
The delay in notifying the waiting masses of Kobe’s absence was supposedly due to the fact that Bryant was unreachable until that time, the spokesman said.
Bryant has been what you might call “fashionably late” to the past couple of these sessions that I’ve covered, regularly rolling in 10-20 minutes after the event’s scheduled start time. It’s tough to blame him, as many of the questions are either soaked in silliness, or are simply requests for shout-outs to fans living in faraway foreign lands.
There’s also the fact that all is not great in Laker-land right now, beginning with Bryant’s rant less than a week ago that the organization make a decision on whether or not to trade Pau Gasol, and, most recently, the Lakers loss in Oklahoma City last night that had Bryant and James Harden jawing for an extended period near the game’s end.
It’s fine, and honestly, completely understandable for Bryant not to want to show up to this circus, especially with everything swirling around the Lakers at this point in the season. If he is indeed ill, then hey — we wish him a speedy recovery. It just would have been nice to have a little more than a two-minute head’s up.
The Wizards look like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Tim Frazier.
But they also looked like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Trey Burke and then Brandon Jennings last year – and look how that turned out.
So, even after trading for Frazier, Washington is still trying to increase stability behind John Wall.
The Wizards added some depth to their backcourt on Thursday by signing veteran guard Donald Sloan to a one-year deal, CSN’s Chris Miller confirmed on Thursday night.
The 29-year-old Sloan has played for the Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, Cavaliers, Pacers and Nets in a five-year NBA career. He spent last season in China.
Sloan isn’t much of a scorer, and he’s only a decent distributor. But he makes up for it with all-around adequacy, highlighted by his rebounding for his position.
The veteran will compete with second-year Sheldon Mac, whose salary is just $50,000 guaranteed, to be Washington’s third point guard.
Nigel Hayes became a cult hero at Wisconsin for bringing a “BROKE COLLEGE ATHLETE ANYTHING HELPS” sign to GameDay and soliciting Venmo donations, challenging the stenographer in a press conference and “accidentally” calling a stenographer beautiful in front of a hot mic.
After going undrafted, Hayes and his colorful personality are headed to New York, where Knicks fans are starving for fun.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Could Hayes stick into the regular season? The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one more spot for a player on an standard contract. Chasson Randle has an unguaranteed salary that becomes partially guaranteed around the time training camp opens. The Knicks could also sign other players, though they’re down to just minimum exceptions.
Hayes – a 6-foot-8 forward – has a chance, but he’s most likely ticketed to New York’s minor-league affiliate after being waived by the parent club.
The Rookie of the Year race is wide open heading into next season.
It’s that way every year — if you had predicted Malcolm Brogdon was going to win a year ago, you would have been laughed out of the building — but this coming season has a lot of talent at the top of the board who could win. Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum all have a real shot — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Who is the better favorite? Depends on where you do your betting.
The William Hill’s Nevada sportsbook (which works with a number of Las Vegas casinos, such as the SLS), has this (hat tip ESPN):
Lonzo Ball 9-5
Ben Simmons 5-2
Dennis Smith Jr. 4-1
Markelle Fultz 13-2
De'Aaron Fox 8-1
Jayson Tatum 8-1
The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has Simmons as the betting line favorite at 9-4
The online betting site Bovda.lv has this line
Lonzo Ball 9-4
Dennis Smith 3-1
Ben Simmons 5-1
Jayson Tatum 5-1
Markelle Fultz 8-1
Traditionally, Rookie of the Year goes to a guy who has the ball in his hands, is aggressive, and puts up raw numbers. It celebrates scorers.
This year a whole lot of guys can fit that bill, more than are mentioned here. It’s going to be a wild ride.
The NBA season is coming… and that means NBA 2K18 also coming.
To whet the appetite of you gamers out there, check out the first trailer for the upcoming game, with music by Mobb Deep.
You can pre-order the game now.