That Kobe Bryant is recovering as fast as he is from an Achilles injury that could have been career ending says everything you need to know about his drive, his care of his body and his work ethic.
All of that may not have him back opening night.
Kobe did a Nike-fueled world tour selling shoes and everywhere he went he gets asked about his return — and he continues to not give a firm timeline. The latest quote comes to us via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
‘I don’t know [whether] that means I’ll start the season – I hope so,” Bryant said in a recent interview to Time Out Dubai to promote his upcoming there later this month to host a basketball clinic.
“I’m feeling pretty good,’” Bryant said, ‘stronger than I was. I’m ahead of [my recovery] schedule.”
Lakers fans should expect Kobe back at some early point in the season, but they need to understand he’s not going to be quite the same player. He’ll still be good, but not exactly the same. Over the past few years Kobe’s game had shifted from using his explosiveness to using his basketball IQ and footwork to get the shots he wanted where he wanted. He generally did it — he could get to the elbow and rise up and knock down the jumper.
That footwork and IQ aren’t going anywhere, but he will not get there quite as quickly and not have quite the same lift on the jumper. And in the NBA the margins for error are pretty small.
The bigger issue will be defense, where Kobe already gambled more than he should and now will not be able to recover as well. Combine that with the losses of Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace and the question will be can the Lakers defend well enough to get into the playoffs.
For the Lakers to make the playoffs they are going to need Kobe back early, and for him to be fully Kobe, able to run and play in the Mike D’Antoni system. We’ll see if he can do it.
A couple years ago, Knicks owner James Dolan said there was no scenario Isiah Thomas would return to the Knicks.
But Dolan also said a few months ago he’d keep Phil Jackson for the duration of Jackson’s five-year contract.
With Dolan effectively firing Jackson today, could Thomas become the Knicks’ next president?
Marc Berman of the New York Post:
The Post also learned Liberty president Isiah Thomas would not be considered for Jackson’s successor.
It’s sad that this needs to be reported. It’s even sadder that, even if this the Knicks’ plans right now, there are no assurances Dolan holds steady.
Dumping Jackson is a reason to celebrate. But as long as Dolan owns the team, it must be a reserved celebration.
At least the Knicks’ next step won’t include Thomas. Probably.
TORONTO (AP) — With rumors swirling about the Knicks chasing Raptors president Masai Ujiri, the Raptors have promoted Bobby Webster to general manager.
Webster, 32 years old assistant the youngest GM in the NBA, replaces Jeff Weltman, who left Toronto in May to become president of the Orlando Magic.
A former staffer at the NBA league office in New York, Webster joined the Raptors in 2013 and was named assistant GM in 2016.
He’ll help decide what to offer All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who opted out of the final year of his contract last month after Cleveland swept Toronto in the second round of the playoffs.
Forwards Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson are all unrestricted free agents.
Also Wednesday, Toronto promoted Dan Tolzman to assistant general manager.
The Raptors have posted consecutive 50-win seasons and made four straight playoff appearances.
NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA point guard Jason Williams will miss six to eight months after suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the Big3.
Corey Maggette, also injured in the opening week of Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league of former NBA players, had surgery for a leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.
The injuries were announced Wednesday during a conference call with Cube and Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who also detailed a couple rules changes starting with this weekend’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Games will be played to 50 points, instead of 60, with halftime coming when the first team reaches 25 points. Cube said that would help the four games per day move more quickly.
Phil Jackson’s exit is already opening doors for the Knicks.
No position differs more in the triangle from modern spread NBA offenses than point guard. But without Jackson demanding his point guard fit such a narrow profile, New York can pursue greater talents – like Jeff Teague.
Ian Begley of ESPN:
With Phil Jackson out and the triangle de-emphasized, the Knicks, under general manager Steve Mills, have interest in free agent point guard Jeff Teague, league sources told ESPN. League sources say the interest in Teague is mutual.
The Knicks aren’t as desperate at point guard after drafting Frank Ntilikina, but Ntilikina probably isn’t ready to run an offense full-time yet. Teague could be a stopgap – which might be necessary considering New York can’t easily pivot into rebuilding with Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee locked up.
Teague’s future with the Pacers appears uncertain with Paul George on the trade block. A key part of Larry Bird’s retooling last summer, Teague and Indiana might be headed in different directions now.
The Knicks make as much sense as anywhere for Teague – now that Jackson is gone.