Kobe says Pau Gasol’s tantrum after Lakers’ loss in Orlando was a good thing


NEW YORK — There’s a lot of losing going on in LakerLand these days, and the team’s most recent loss in Orlando to a Magic squad who came into that one with a record of 11-32 on the season was enough to send Pau Gasol over the edge.

Gasol threw a postgame locker room tantrum that including throwing his shoes, and ripped into teammates for a lackluster effort after losing to what he called one of the league’s worst teams.

“Bottom line is, when you lose against the worst teams in the league, you’ve got to ask yourself why and … what does that make you?” Gasol said afterward, via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

Before the Lakers faced the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Kobe Bryant met with the media and was asked what he thought of Gasol’s actions.

“That was the most irritated I’ve seen Pau in a long long time,” Bryant said. “I’ve never really seen him come in and have a tantrum in the locker room, which is good. It’s good. It’s something that needs to be done. It can’t be something where losing becomes accepted, or the whole ‘we gave it a good effort’ sort of thing.”

Bryant is still a ways away from returning from his latest injury, a fractured bone in his knee that has kept him out of action since Dec. 17. He’s scheduled to meet with doctors Tuesday when the team returns to Los Angeles, at which time he hopes to be able to progress to the next stage in his rehabilitation.

Until he does make it back, he believes it’s important for his teammates not to become accustomed to the losing during these difficult times.

“We don’t do that around here,” Bryant said. “That’s not what it’s about. It’s not about giving effort. It’s about winning championships.”

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.