Kobe Bryant will be back when he’s back, and when he is you can expect him to play like Kobe Bryant — he’s not changing.
But what else can you expect from the Lakers this season? What about next summer?
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak met with the media on Wednesday and basically reiterated previous answers in new words. For example, he said once again they franchise is “100 percent” behind Mike D’Antoni as coach. Of course, what else is he going to say?
In the short term, Kupchak said to expect a lot more of Pau Gasol down on the block (via reporters Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report and Mike Trudell of Lakers.com):
Mitch on @paugasol: "If he's healthy, he's going to be an All-Star player. He'll be the focal point of our play in the paint."
Gasol is incredibly skilled as a scorer and passer on the block and for the past couple of seasons (due to Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard) he has been pushed into more of a power forward role. This season he goes back to his strengths, so long as Mike D’Antoni lets him.
As for Kobe, Kupchak said there is no timetable and again said he is not even running at 100 percent yet. Kupchak didn’t sound like a guy who expects Kobe to be in uniform opening night.
Most Lakers fans are not focused on this season but the next summer — that is when a lot of Lakers salary comes off the books (including Gasol and Kobe) and the franchise can rebuild with free agents. Kupchak said the Lakers plan to bring back Kobe Bryant, but they have not discussed a price with him yet.
Mitch Kupchak on Kobe: "He intends to retire a Laker. … We feel the same way."
But Kupchak is realistic about getting the big names (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and others) to come to L.A. next summer. Kupchak has said before the plan is less for the summer of 2014 and more about 2015 and beyond and he echoed those thoughts again.
Kupchak on free agency next summer: “It’s going to be tough to get players to move. It really is.”
The NBA’s trade market did not collapse after the Jahlil Okafor trade.
There’s more to come, but with the trade deadline is less than two months away, we have more questions than answers. DeAndre Jordan very likely could be on the move from the Clippers (and Lou Williams, too). But what is Memphis going to do about Mark Gasol? New Orleans with DeMarcus Cousins? Oklahoma City with Paul George? And if any of those guys are available, who is a buyer? Cleveland? Milwaukee? Portland?
Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down the high end of the trade market, plus talk about other guys who could be on the move — maybe Nikola Mirotic from Chicago, and what about someone like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from Charlotte — before Feb. 8 gets here. The last couple of trade deadlines have been interesting, but will we see a move that changes the landscape of the NBA playoffs in a meaningful way?
Mavericks center Salah Mejri has a history of agitating, including against the Spurs.
Two years ago, Mejri dunked while Dallas got blown out by San Antonio and yapped at the Spurs bench – drawing laughter from Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. Last season, Mejri had Trevor Ariza and other Rockets trying to confront him after reportedly saying something about Ariza’s family.
The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).
That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.
After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.
NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.
Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.
Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China. All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.
TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off
The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.
The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.
I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.
But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.