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):
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.
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.
As for Shaq as co-owner of the Sacramento Kings….
Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks should have gotten a Christmas game last year. In hindsight, the NBA reportedly agreed.
So, Anthony expects New York to get a marquee matchup — against the Bulls — on either Christmas or opening night.
Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:
The storylines are overflowing.
The Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — two former Bulls — to join Anthony, who strongly considered Chicago in his last free agency. The Bulls answered with a couple big names: Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They’ll join Jimmy Butler, whose stature is only growing — just like Kristaps Porzingis in New York.
Those are plenty of attention-drawing players, and the league will want to capitalize, even if we’re talking about a couple middling Eastern Conference teams.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that New York and Chicago are huge markets.
Michael Jordan issued a statement on race in America and donated $2 million to a couple worthy causes.
That drew international coverage, including one curious photo choice:
Only in Malawi.
When Amar’e Stoudemire retired, I said history will treat him better than present-day analysis — maybe even to the point he gets legitimate Hall of Fame consideration.
Get past Stoudemire’s injury-caused decline with the Knicks and his wayward years with the Mavericks and Heat, and Stoudemire was a heck of a player with the Suns (and in his first year in New York).
Thanks to the NBA, the process of remembering Stoudemire for his peak can begin immediately. I was blown away by the first few highlights before realizing they were just the introduction for the top 10.
Vlade Divac isn’t calling Rudy Gay with trade-talk updates.
So, how is the Kings general manager spending his time?
Watching DeMarcus Cousins with Team USA.
James Ham of CSN California on Cousins:
He’s primed to show the world what both he and plenty of others around the basketball world already believe — that he is the best big man in the world.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said from his courtside seat. “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world. And being from Serbia, I have to root for Serbia, but I feel bad for them. He’s going to kill them.”
If we take Divac’s statement — “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world” — at face value, nope. LeBron James is. Other players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are also better than Cousins, but big men can dominate in a way perimeter players can’t
If Divac meant just among big men, there’s a case. When Cousins is fully engaged, it’s one I’d definitely buy. He’s a load to handle inside, and his defense can be top-notch.
There are just too many times Cousins checks out. It’s a fine line, because Cousins’ emotions carries him to his highs. But he hasn’t yet found an ideal equilibrium point. His lows are still too low and too frequent.
That said, no center nears Cousins’ peak dominance. DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green, when he plays the position, need too much help from teammates to be considered truly dominant. Andre Drummond isn’t polished enough. Even with his flaws, Cousins is probably already the NBA’s most dominant center.
Most dominant player, though? No. That’s a step too far.