At All-Star weekend in New Orleans, Kobe Bryant called his recovery from a knee fracture “a slow process.”
That process has suffered another setback.
Lakers’ doctors examined Kobe on Friday and he continues to have soreness and swelling, so he will be re-evaluated in three weeks, according to the Orange County Register. Until then, no workouts, just more stationary bike (that Kobe admits he’s sick of).
With just 27 games left in the Lakers season it becomes hard to see how Kobe comes back to play before the April 16 end of the season. At the most optimistic end of the spectrum Kobe could be cleared to start working out again in mid-March, and after a few weeks of that he would be able to return for the final handful of games in what has been a disastrous Lakers season. That optimistic scenario has him back for 10 or fewer games at the end of a meaningless season. A season where the Lakers are better off losing and getting a higher draft pick anyway.
Kobe and the Lakers can do the math, they know the situation. Kobe hinted at this speaking to the media in New Orleans, saying he normally didn’t play much pick-up ball in the summer and just focused on his own thing, but that this summer would be different. Why? Presumably because he wouldn’t get in any games this season and there is no substitute for game action.
Kobe has played in just six games this season, missing the first weeks of the season recovering from his torn Achilles suffered at the end of last season. Then less than two full weeks into his comeback, he fractured the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. That has been slow to heal.
All the Lakers will say is that they are not going to rush him back. All Kobe will do is say what he said in New Orleans, that he has to “do what I have to do” and will keep grinding to get back. Of course he will, that’s who he is.
But at this point the math and situation becomes overwhelming and Kobe will have to admit he will not be back until next season. We all realize it. It’s just not time for Kobe to admit it publicly yet.
The Los Angeles Clippers still have Paul Pierce under contract. Not many minutes for him, but he has a roster spot.
Pierce probably wants come back but is thinking it all over, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
Pierce has been debating this with himself for a while now.
Pierce saw a dramatic drop off in production and how much he was used last season by Rivers. Pierce averaged a career-low 6.1 points per game on an also career low 48.9 true shooting percentage. His PER of 8.2 was also a career low. You get the idea. By the end of the season Pierce was mostly an afterthought for Doc Rivers (although he did start one game after Blake Griffin was out and the Clippers’ playoff dreams were toast).
Pierce would be more mentor than a key player on the court, but he would be on probably the third best team in the West, a team that capable of making a deep playoff run. Does he want to do that for one more season? You know Doc would welcome him.
Andrea Bargnani said he would’ve played “for free” to prove himself with the Nets last season.
That would have been about the right price.
Bargnani suffered through a miserable season — full of injury, poor individual play and losing. Brooklyn eventually bought him out.
Now, the entire NBA might be finished with the former No. 1 pick.
Bargnani signed with Spanish team Saski Baskonia.
At age 30, he faces a long road back to world’s top league — if he even wants to try. Bargnani is a one-dimensional jump shooter, and he doesn’t even shoot that well.
It was ridiculous for the Knicks to trade a first-rounder for him, and that was three years ago already. Bargnani is only further from his peak now.
Maybe he carves out a niche in Europe, where his lack of physicality is less likely to be exposed. But Bargnani is no longer an NBA player.
The Heat signed Dion Waiters to a room-exception contract.
Heat president Pat Riley, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
“Dion is not a Room Exception player. He wanted to play for the Miami Heat and chose to forgo other more lucrative financial opportunities to be a part of our championship organization. We are very honored that he made the commitment to come to South Florida and sign with us. Dion is young, athletic and explosive, which fits in with our roster. He will add a great dimension for us at the off-guard spot. I really like the depth and versatility that we now have in our perimeter positions. Welcome aboard Dion!”
I’m really curious about those “more lucrative financial opportunities.”
The Thunder didn’t think Waiters was worth his one-year, $6,777,589 qualifying offer. They earmarked that money for a Russell Westbrook renegotiation-and-extension and don’t define the market themselves. But every team has other uses for its money than paying Waiters, and none deemed Waiters a priority.
How much could Waiters have gotten next season if he signed a multi-year deal rather than the 1+1 he inked with Miami? The whole “Waiters betting on himself” narrative falls apart if nobody was willing to bet more more on Waiters.
The 24-year-old is talented. But his ball-hogging, drifting focus and me-first attitude can be infuriating.
It behooves Riley to paint Waiters as more than a room-exception player, because that enhances Riley’s reputation as someone who lures free agents for less than market value. A big-time compliment from the influential Riley might have even part of Waiters’ contract negotiation.
But there’s a reason Waiters signed for the room exception. It has something to do with the type of player he is.
The Clippers don’t just play second fiddle to the Lakers in Los Angeles. They play second fiddle to the Lakers in their own arena.
Unless the Clippers want to move from the NBA’s second-biggest market, the former isn’t changing.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
The Clippers want to escape the Lakers’ shadow. Leaving the Staples Center wouldn’t turn the Clippers into L.A.’s team, but it’d give them a new avenue for attention — and revenue.
Of course, if the Clippers stay in the Staples Center, they’ll want the best terms possible. Leaking interest in a new arena only helps their bargaining position.