Kobe Bryant imagines ideal brother, and it’s Pau Gasol

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When the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant told the Associated Press, “It’s a matter of us just gelling now and putting it together.”

Since, Kobe and Gasol have spent six seasons together with the Lakers. They’ve won two championships together. They endured last season’s disappointment together.

They have definitely jelled.

Kobe wrote a forward for Pau Gasol’s book, and it’s a little moving. Ramona Shelburne ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Bryant writes that “If I could choose my brother,” it would be Gasol. That “he would have the highest basketball IQ in the league” and “you’d have to search and search and you still would not find another player in the history of the game with his skill set.” That “if his organization ever let him down, he would hold his head up high” and “would not lash out or let himself become entangled in the drama.” That “we would both face adversity in our professions, so we would talk about our lives and our careers and the pressures of our celebrity” and that “our bond would be fortified by a trust only brothers share.”

It is hard to imagine higher praise from Kobe. And his sentiments are echoed by the foreword written by former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who said of Gasol, “he’s a son whom I could adopt very easily and embrace.”

It’s great that Kobe feels so close with Gasol, but I can’t help but wonder what Gasol thinks of Kobe.

I’m sure Gasol likes Kobe. That’s not in dispute. My question is about degree.

Kobe is notoriously reserved from his teammates. Though Kobe called Derek Fisher his all-time favorite teammate, Fisher once said he’d never even been to Kobe’s house.

Though Kobe might be especially close with Gasol relative to other teammates he’s had, I wonder how Gasol would compare the closeness he feels with Kobe to the other relationships in his life. Generally, Kobe’s comments would indicate a relationship Gasol also finds extremely close, but with Kobe’s reputation, that’s not necessarily the case.

To be clear, I’m not denigrating Kobe. I respect his desire to keep his privacy, and he and Gasol can define their relationship on their own terms. I’m just curious. That’s all.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.