Kobe Bryant hints he will play beyond next season

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Kobe Bryant certainly hinted more than once he might hang it up after next season.

However did you really think a guy that competitive would walk away? Now his Achilles tendon injury oddly makes it more likely he will return.

Kobe does not want his final image on the court to be him slowed because of an injury. So he may come back for a season or two after his current contract expires next summer. That’s what he hinted at with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN Radio (as transcribed by Eric Pincus at the Los Angeles Times). The question was about Tim Duncan possibly getting a fifth ring.

“My goal is to win more than five,” said Bryant. “If he does win five, hopefully that pushes our organization upstairs to be even more determined and more driven to make the necessary expenses to make sure we continue the next year and the year after that.”

The Lakers would gladly welcome Kobe back for a year or two more, although he would have to take a Tim Duncan/Kevin Garnett pay cut to return.

Of course, the other question is “does Dwight Howard want him back?” If Howard does return to the Lakers, would a somewhat slowed Kobe (you’re not quite the same player at his age after this surgery) be willing to cede some of the power on the team to Howard? Can they co-exist? Because if the Lakers are going to win a ring for Kobe in the next couple years they are going to need Howard and some other pieces to stay healthy and contribute.

Just something to watch as the Lakers head into the summer of 2014. The only guys that would be on the payroll for the Lakers that year would be Steve Nash and potentially Howard. It’s a chance for the Lakers to reshape the roster. But they would have to deal with Kobe early because he is a massive cap hold under the CBA that could mess with their plans.

Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.