For years the Lakers had a great locker room balance — Kobe Bryant was the bad cop, Derek Fisher the good cop. Kobe would get in a guys face over a missed rotation or whatever, Fisher would come along later as the “big brother” who would listen to you but also tell you how it is.
Fisher is gone and the Lakers are still looking for that balance. The Lakers had a team meeting in Memphis last week where Kobe reportedly was direct with Dwight Howard asking him “do you want to play with me?” Then Kobe said he wanted to direct the offense and Howard needed to take a secondary role then dominate the defense.
So how does the more jovial, smiling Howard like confrontational Kobe? Mark Medina at the Daily News asked him.
“I love it,” Howard said. “That’s something we needed. A lot of times we have a lot of guys come together and nobody wants to step on anybody’s toes or do anything against anybody else. We want to win. In order for us to win, we have to pull the best out of each other every night….
“We all know Kobe is the first option,” Howard said. “Whoever scores after that doesn’t matter. The defensive end is where I take lead and make sure I hold guys accountable and make sure do my job in being active.”
What did you expect him to say?
‘For a couple games the Lakers have gone away from Mike D’Antoni’s offense to an offense where a lot of guys are having success at things they haven’t done a ton of in the past — Kobe the facilitator, Steve Nash a shooter off the ball, Howard making off the ball cuts. Their defense has been a lot better as directed by Howard.
Can they maintain it? Especially on a seven-game road trip (granted mostly against teams under .500)? We will see.
But the chemistry in the locker room appears to be just fine.
Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.
In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.
The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.
Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.
Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.
A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.
Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.
In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.
Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.
They’ll get their chance.
Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:
The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.
The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.
This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.
At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.
What’s going on?
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.
Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.
The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.
At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).
But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.
Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.