San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four

Echoing Nash, Kobe says he wants Lakers to bring back Gasol, Howard

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It’s this simple: The Lakers players believe if management will bring this core with Mike D’Antoni as the coach for one more season they can make a serious run at a title.

Those Lakers see themselves as the side that went 28-12 for a stretch once guys started to get healthy and found a style that fit. They think they found something that works. They want another shot.

Specifically, Kobe Bryant wants another shot.

Steve Nash told the media that earlier during the Lakers exit media sessions.

We’ll see if that happens. Dwight Howard said he would take his time in making a decision, but the smart money is betting he will be back.

Bryant also admitted the Lakers need to get more athletic, to get more speed. That’s where things get tricky — the Lakers are so far over the luxury tax line that all they can offer is one taxpayer’s mid-level deal ($3 million or so) and then minimum deals. And the kind of athletes the Lakers need will get better offers elsewhere. The Lakers could try and find a trade that works for those athletes, but the only trade asset of real value on the team is Pau Gasol. And to trade him breaks up the core.

As for his Achilles, Kobe understood this was going to take time (he admitted he would not likely be ready to play when the Lakers head to China in the preseason. But he could be back somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Kobe said he understood that he would not be quite the same player.

I’ve already told you I think the Lakers can’t come back exactly the same team next year. But we also don’t really know what the core of this team could have done if healthy and with a training camp under a coach there the entire season. This last season was a perfect storm of things going wrong for the Lakers, they think they’ve gotten through the bad Karma.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.