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.”
Michele Roberts entered the NBA’s player union in a tumultuous time — long-time union president Billy Hunter had been ousted in a rancorous fight, the union felt adrift, and negotiations with the NBA on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement were looming (and players felt they had been screwed in the last CBA, following the lockout).
Roberts, the first female head of a professional sports labor union, settled things down. She cleaned up the union finances and made them more transparent to players, she worked hard to establish relationships with the players, and while she rattled some sabers with the NBA in negotiations, she also worked in a non-combative way with Adam Silver and team (unlike the Billy Hunter/David Stern relationship) and got a deal done the players liked without a lockout or labor mess.
With an original four-year agreement set to expire in September, Michele Roberts plans to seek a new contract as the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, sources tell ESPN…
Roberts had strongly considered staying in the NBPA’s executive director role for only the length of her original contract — and expressed that to the union’s senior membership — but has recently decided to pursue a longer tenure, sources said.
NBPA president Chris Paul played a significant part in Roberts’ hiring in July 2014 and he has built a strong working relationship with Roberts.
Roberts also has a good relationship with the star-heavy executive committee of the union — CP3, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and others — making it likely she gets a new deal.
As for what’s next, at the front of that list Roberts is working with Silver and others on reforming the NBA’s one-and-done rule (it was supposed to be part of the CBA negotiations but was too big and complex an issue to fold into that timeline).
Neither the owners or players can opt out of the CBA for four more years (and if neither side does it runs a couple more beyond that) so labor peace will continue in the NBA for a while.
Isaiah Thomas rewarded on epic flop with offensive foul call vs. Heat
Why do NBA players flop on defense? Because it works.
While there is less of it than there was a couple of years back — when the NBA made a big show about calling more flops and warning (then eventually fining players a pittance) for the move — it still exists. Case in point, this impressive one from Isaiah Thomas of the Lakers on Tyler Johnson of the Heat Friday night (hat tip AminElHassavag at NBA Reddit).
Was there a little contact, sure, but Thomas fell back like he was shot by the second gunman on the grassy knoll. He exaggerated the contact, which is the definition of flopping. Thing is, he got the call (the ref who made the call, from his position, might only have seen the contact and not necessarily the extent of exaggeration, but that’s where the other officials need to step in).
Not that everything went Thomas’ way Friday night.
Suns’ Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley fined $25,000 each for knocking down Ricky Rubio
There should have been suspensions involved for the cheap shots leveled on Ricky Rubio by the pair during Thursday night’s blowout Jazz win. Instead, the pair were fined $25,000 a piece by the league Saturday for this incident.
Rubio has a knee contusion from the incident Jazz coach Quin Snyder confirmed, however, Rubio is available to play Saturday vs. the Kings.
Dudley was given a flagrant 2 and ejected at the time, Chriss was handed just a flagrant 1 for his escalation. I don’t completely buy Dudley’s explanation here either — I think they were pissed Rubio stepped over a down Chriss to inbound the ball and made him pay for it — but he did own up to it being excessive.
Thought Quese got fouled, Ref gave them the ball while he was on the ground with my other teammate trying to help him up.. I wanted to stop the fast break( I always do this) The push was a little much but he flopped and sold it.. Flagrant 1 or 2 and you move on.. https://t.co/Yf6CYlcaFj
So to be clear, if you throw a haymaker and miss — as Aaron Afflalo did recently — that’s a two-game suspension. But if you throw or body check a player to the ground, that’s just 25 large, no time missed. Players wanting retaliation will take note of that.
Roulette tables are less random than the NBA’s enforcement policies.
Check out Terrance Ferguson’s acrobatic layup vs. Clippers (VIDEO)