Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant dives for a loose ball during their NBA game against the Chicago Bulls in Los Angeles

ESPN bumps Lakers-Rockets for Suns-Timberwolves, Cavaliers-Wizards for Pacers-Trail Blazers


The Lakers gave Kobe Bryant a no-negotiation contract extension – in the exact opposite manner of this, to be clear – for many reasons.

One of them was undoubtedly the amount of money Kobe’s star power generates for the Lakers.

Regardless of how good Kobe is in the coming years or how good the Lakers are after spending what remains of their cap room, Kobe makes money for the team. Case in point, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

Los Angeles and Houston are obviously bigger markets than Phoenix and Minnesota. And, as their Christmas game with the Heat showed, the Lakers can still compete with teams like the Rockets.

But Kobe will still be injured Jan. 8, and with him sidelined, the appeal is obviously much lower.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $50,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,500. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Cavaliers and Wizards also lost their ESPN matchup Feb. 7, according to J. Michael of CSN Washington.

Cleveland and Washington didn’t do too much wrong to get booted. As both teams hoped, they’re squarely in the playoff race, though in the Eastern Conference, that means both have losing records.

Instead, the Pacers and Trail Blazers, who will get the Feb. 7 ESPN game, just made their matchup irresistible. Each team leads its respective conference, and though few are predicting an Indiana-Portland NBA Finals, the regular-season bout should definitely draw viewers.

Could Tristan Thompson’s holdout last months? Windhorst says yes.

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
1 Comment

VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”

That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.

Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:

“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”

Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.

And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.