Kobe Bryant is going to finish his career a Los Angeles Laker — 20 seasons with the same team. That would be the longest single-team tenure in NBA history.
Monday morning the Lakers announced that Bryant — who has yet to play this season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon — has signed a two-year extension with the team.
“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in a released statement. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens. To play 20 years in the NBA, and to do so with the same team, is unprecedented, and quite an accomplishment. Most importantly however, it assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker, bringing us excellent play and excitement for years to come.”
This does not come cheaply. At all.
Understand Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett became free agents then took salary cuts into the $10 million range.
For the Lakers this is the smart business move — Kobe Bryant the player is what fills the seats and the luxury boxes, what gets sponsors on board, what drives the team’s financial engine. Even at $48.5 million for two seasons, he’s a bargain.
But that salary is going to cut pretty deeply into who the Lakers will be able to bring in and put around Kobe Bryant. With Bryant’s new salary plus the stuff on the books (Steve Nash, for one) they should have about $22 million, enough to bring in a max free agent (if they can attract one). It’s not simple. The need to deal with Pau Gasol and his contract this summer (he is a cap hold of $20 million until he signs with the Lakers or another team) and some of the other pieces to create that space. Unless they can bring Gasol back.
Whoever they bring in, for two more seasons in Los Angeles this is Kobe Bryant’s team.
DeMarre Carroll – after being traded from Toronto to Brooklyn – said some Raptors players didn’t trust their teammates. That’s the type of lightening-rod statement that often creates more controversy and/or comes across more harshly than the speaker intended. So, representative of his true feelings or not, he usually tries to walk it back.
Not Carroll, who mostly doubled down.
Carroll, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post:
Carroll, who will make $30 million over the next two seasons, admitted he wasn’t fit for Toronto’s isolation-heavy offense, that he is a role player at his best when his team moves the ball.
“Yeah, that’s definitely fair to say. I had my share of iso already, so team-ball is my forte,” said Carroll, who said it was effective with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. “You got two great All-Stars, two great players. That’s how they play. They were playing that way before I came, and they’re going to be playing that way long after I leave. They’re not changing that for me.”
“I give credit to Masai: He helped me find a team,’’ Carroll said. “Me coming from a system in Atlanta where the team is about moving the ball, we felt like it wasn’t a fit. I’m not an iso player by any means. I’m definitely a role player and for me to be the best role player I need to be on a team that shares the ball.
Carroll did emphasize more this time that an isolation system is more effective with Lowry and DeRozan. Some might even argue that system is more necessary considering the talent disparity between Toronto’s stars and their teammates – like Carroll. Carroll’s scoring prowess is more similar to the other Nets, which makes great ball movement more effective. If Lowry’s and DeRozan’s teammates were equally as good as those two, Lowry and DeRozan might pass more.
It’s a tough equilibrium to strike, and the Raptors probably haven’t yet. After multiple playoff disappointments, they’re trying for a a “culture reset” that includes more passing. It’s a big shift for a team and stars with such established identities.
Count Carroll among those doubting they’ll truly change their approach.
Knicks fans clamored for years for owner James Dolan to stop meddling. Dolan finally listened, handing the keys to the franchise to Phil Jackson then stepping away – another big error by the error-prone owner.
Then, Knicks fans clamored for Dolan to fire Jackson. Eventually – and far later than ideal – Dolan got Jackson out of town.
With Steve Mills succeeding Jackson as team president, what is Dolan’s involvement now? New general manager Scott Perry – rather awkwardly – shed light on the situation during an interview with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and Michael Smith.
Via Reed Wallach of Nets Daily:
- Hill: “It’s still early, but what have your interactions with James Dolan been like?”
- Perry: “I have not met with him yet, but I’m looking forward to that.”
- Smith: “You have not met with him since you took the job, you mean?”
- Perry: “Yes.”
- Smith: “Gotcha. But obviously you met with him before you took the job?”
- Perry: “No, I’ve dealt very closely with Steve Mills throughout the process.”
- Smith: “Oh, it’s really just been Steve?”
- Perry: “It’s just been – yes. Yes, it has.”
This isn’t necessarily problematic. Did you met with your boss’s boss during the interview process or shortly after being hired? For some jobs, I have. For others, I haven’t.
Though Perry carries the lofty general-manager title, Mills still runs the front office and reports directly to Dolan. I am curious how often Mills interacts with Dolan, though at least Mills is now getting advised from below with Perry.
The last time Mills was left to his own devices, he signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million deal.
Back in 1995 — while you were listening to Coolio rap “Gangster’s Paradise,” watching the O.J. Simpson trial, and using your cell phone to actually make calls — Sacramento Kings GM Geoff Petrie used a late second round pick on Dejan Bodiroga.
The Serbian point forward — who played for the Serbian national team with Vlade Divac — never came over to the NBA, despite multiple efforts by the Kings, and is still considered one of the better European players never to test the NBA waters. He was a Spanish and Greek league MVP and won multiple titles in European leagues.
Friday, the Kings finally renounced his draft rights.
He’s just 44 and hasn’t played professionally since 2007, are they sure he still couldn’t contribute? (Insert your own Jose Calderon joke here.)
Kings fans on Twitter were awesome.
Kyrie Irving reportedly made his desire to leave the Cavaliers known during his first few years in Cleveland. Then, LeBron James returned and that talk quieted – for a while. This offseason, Irving renewed his trade request, reportedly before the draft then again to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert last week.
But this has apparently been percolating throughout Irving’s time in Cleveland – even at the Cavaliers’ peak.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
When Irving signed his deal, he expected to be the franchise player for the foreseeable future. But about two weeks later, James arrived from Miami. The sudden change of situation rocked Irving, and he has vacillated at times over the past three years about working as a secondary star to James and the original plan of having his own team.
He discussed the challenge during last month’s NBA Finals.
“Having just a tremendously great player like that come to your team, and you see yourself being one of those great players eventually, and then he ends up joining it, and then now you have to almost take a step back and observe,” Irving said. “Finding that balance is one of the toughest things to do because you have so much belief and confidence in yourself. … Selfishly, I always wanted to just show everyone in the whole entire world exactly who I was every single time.”
With this in mind, Irving considered requesting a trade after the Cavs’ championship last year but decided against it, sources said.
Irving is catching a lot of heat for wanting to ditch LeBron and the consensus second-best team in the NBA. Imagine if Irving requested a trade immediately after a title!
This is yet another example of winning curing all ills. Irving clearly sees playing a supporting role as suboptimal, but he was willing to do it when Cleveland was winning a championship. Now that the Cavs title chances have slipped (hello, Kevin Durant-boosted Warriors) – even just to second-best in the entire league – Irving has prioritized his exit.
We’ll see how this affects Irving’s image. That’s important for such a prominent endorser. But it’s safe to say a trade request last summer would have gone over far worse with the public.