Lakers fans could have watched their team’s preseason win over Utah Tuesday night with a sense of optimism. Jordan Farmar looked good in the second half running the offense, Wes Johnson looked comfortable in the system on his way to 14 points, Xavier Henry was attacking, Jordan Hill looked solid in the paint. You could extrapolate out from that things aren’t as bad as some pundits predict for the Lakers.
That’s not what Tracy McGrady saw.
He was watching the Lakers game and tweeted this:
Sitting here watching the Lakers, and I feel sorry for my boy Jellybean when he comes back!
As there should be in the preseason, there is optimism in the Lakers camp… and by optimism I mean thinking they will make the playoffs. I’m not on board that train. Talent wins in the NBA and while fans can talk of improved chemistry and the rest, the best players win the most games in the Association. The Lakers replaced Dwight Howard with Chris Kaman and Metta World Peace with Johnson and Henry. Those are not upgrades. Nick Young is a gunner not an answer.
As I’ve said more than once, I expect Kobe Bryant to come back and not be terribly far from the Kobe we remember on offense — he’s become more of a jump shooter who uses his footwork and fundamentals to get the ball in his spots then get his shot off. That will not change.
The big issue is the Lakers are going to struggle defensively. You could see some of that against the Jazz Tuesday — Steve Blake struggled to defend Gordon Hayward and when he got broken down the Lakers (with Kaman out) just lost all defensive shape and integrity. With a slowed somewhat Kobe the Lakers perimeter defense is in question. The Lakers open the season against Chris Paul (with Steve Nash guarding him) and the West is flush with good, attacking point guards. That defensive integrity will be tested.
By the time he comes back, we all may feel for Kobe Bryant.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.