The Lakers held their annual media day to open training camp on Saturday, and before the team could move forward to the business of the upcoming season, a question forced Kobe Bryant to take one final look at the one that just passed.
Asked about his surprise level when Dwight Howard chose to leave L.A. for Houston in free agency, Bryant was clearly ready to move on.
“Honestly, man, I don’t really give a s—,” he told reporters. “If he would have come back, it would have been great. If he didn’t … It is what it is.”
That sums up pretty succinctly how most Lakers fans feel about Howard’s departure, as well.
Despite losing out on one of the most talented free agents on the market, along with questions of health and how all the new pieces will fit together, Bryant isn’t ready to back away from his annual goal of winning a title just yet.
“Our expectations are always the same going into every single season: It’s to improve every day with the goal in mind of winning a championship,” Bryant said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles. “It doesn’t matter what anybody else is saying, that’s the goal that we have.”
As for what the others are saying — namely, those that are predicting the Lakers will finish the year without making the playoffs — Bryant would like to remind you about how the predictions for his team turned out last season.
“Those people have been wrong before,” Bryant said, in an interview with Time Warner Cable. “They picked us to win a championship last year, and they were dead-ass wrong about that.”
Through the first two weeks of training camp, the Pelicans have seen their frontcourt depth decimated by injuries to Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik, both of whom are out for a few weeks. A deal with Greg Smith fell through after he failed a physical. Now, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that they’re signing former Knicks and Nets center Jerome Jordan as a short-term solution:
Jordan has only played 65 games in his career and hasn’t been spectacular, but the Pelicans need a body while their two centers are out. Anthony Davis will spend some time at center, but considering the contracts Asik and Ajinca got this summer, Alvin Gentry clearly plans on playing him at power forward as well, and they need a center to at least fill time before Asik and Ajinca get back.
He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.
Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:
“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”
Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.
“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”
At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.