Kobe Bryant has never lacked for confidence.
And although his Lakers are three games below .500 and 3.5 games back of the eight-seed Houston Rockets, Kobe is sure the Lakers can make the playoffs. And has no doubt that once there they can do damage. Basically because Kobe has no doubt.
From an interview with Sports Illustrated.
“It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will. And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone — Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver … whoever. I have zero nervousness about that….
“But I’m not talking about just me. Us as a group. We will make the playoffs. And we will compete. And part of the reason I have that confidence is the Miami game [a 107-97 loss in Miami on Feb. 10]. We had control of the game. That was no fluke. We were playing very, very well. We were reading the defense, making the extra pass. OK, they have two great players [LeBron James and Dwayne Wade] who scored eight straight buckets and took control of the game. But we were right there. We can do it.”
The Lakers can make the playoffs, and it’s easy to picture that after the way Dwight Howard played and the Lakers as a team against the Celtics Wednesday. But they have not been consistent about that kind of play all season. And that’s the real challenge — the Lakers have started to find a flow an identity, but they can’t afford more setbacks. Or injured shoulders.
The Rockets remain on pace to win 44 games. Just to match that the Lakers would need to go 18-9 the rest of the way — and the Lakers have been on that pace lately, winning six of their last nine. During that stretch it has looked as if they are starting to figure out who they are and what they have to do as a group. They are starting to find an identity.
But they are going to need a sustained level of success we have not seen from them this season. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy either.
That never stopped Kobe. He’s confident.
The Hornets are plenty deep at center with Cody Zeller, Roy Hibbert, Spencer Hawes and Frank Kaminsky.
Just in case…
Charlotte Hornets General Manager Rich Cho announced today that the team has signed center Mike Tobey.
Tobey went undrafted after four seasons at Virginia then played well for the Hornets’ summer-league team. He’s a good offensive rebounder, and he has some touch with the ball. But his lack of length and athleticism really limit him.
There’s an outside chance Tobey competes with Aaron Harrison, whose salary is unguaranteed, for Charlotte’s final regular-season roster spot. Tobey’s standing and the Hornets’ center depth will work against him.
Most likely, this is just a way for Charlotte to stock its new D-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm. The Hornets can waive Tobey after training camp and assign his D-League rights to the Swarm. A partial guarantee on his NBA contract would probably entice him to join the D-League rather than play overseas.
Glen Rice Jr. — the No. 35 pick in the 2013 NBA draft — continues his fall.
He spent a couple years with the Wizards, got waived and then was shot and arrested in a single incident.
Now, he faces more charges.
the 25-year-old was arrested for robbery Monday morning in Georgia … less than a year after he was shot in a bizarre gunfight at T.I.’s restaurant.
Here’s what we know … Rice was booked at 6:37 AM this morning for felony robbery, aggravated battery and possession of marijuana. He has since been released from custody.
You thought it was crazy two teams — the Nets with an offer sheet and the Heat matching it — valued Tyler Johnson at $50 million over the next four years?
Check out his reaction.
Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald:
That’s a lot of money for anyone, especially someone who went undrafted just two years ago. But Johnson worked his way up from the D-League and impressed with his athleticism, feel for the game and outside shot.
There’s a school of thought that sometimes players are better off as restricted, rather than unrestricted, free agents. That was probably true for Johnson, whose status led to Brooklyn going over the top on an offer. Add a skyrocketing salary cap, Johnson was in the right place at the right time.
Accompanying their signing of Chris Andersen, the Cavaliers paid Philadelphia to take Sasha Kaun. Cleveland, facing a steep luxury tax, didn’t want to pay both big men. It was cheaper to send the 76ers cash and have them waive Kaun rather than the Cavs doing it themselves.
But perhaps the Cavaliers could’ve just waited out Kaun.
Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World:
Sasha Kaun, one of only two Kansas University basketball players, along with Hall of Famer Clyde Lovellette, to win an NCAA title (2008), NBA title (2016) and medal in the Olympic Games (2012 bronze), has decided to retire from pro ball at the age of 31.
“I was very blessed and fortunate to play as long as I have. I had a great experience for the (Russian) national team and professionally. Overall, it’s been phenomenal,” Kaun said Saturday in a phone conversation
Kaun said he started thinking seriously about retirement “toward the end of the season. I kind of feel my ankle has been bothering me awhile. With the amount of pain I was going through, I just wanted to be done. It’s something I’ve had all my career,” he added of right ankle problems. “It was definitely getting worse and worse, year by year. Especially coming here (one year in NBA after seven seasons in Moscow) … the intensity of the game I just kind of realized I don’t think I can go and do it any more.
“I said, ‘You know what? I’m not going to be happy playing. I’m not going to be happy not playing. I think it’s a good time to call it quits.’’’
Kaun joined the NBA at age 30 last year — eight years after being the No. 56 pick in the 2008 draft. He played just 95 minutes in 25 games for Cleveland in his rookie and only season.
Perhaps Kaun wouldn’t have retired if he had a roster spot on the defending NBA champions. At minimum, being a free agent made it an easier call.
Kaun was best known professionally for playing for David Blatt both with the Russian national team and the Cavs and not being Kendrick Perkins.