Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets

Pau Gasol questions Lakers discipline after loss to Pacers


It’s obviously been a bit of a rough season for the Lakers, and especially so for Pau Gasol.

Gasol was once again embroiled in what have been seemingly annual trade talks, only to see him remain with the team now that the deadline has passed. He’s been injured off and on, though not to the degree of Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash, so he’s been on the court for plenty of L.A.’s losing this season.

After seeing a game that was within three points at the half turn into a disheartening 20-point loss (albeit on the road, and to one of the league’s best teams), Gasol spoke out on what he perceives as one of the team’s biggest problems.

From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

With 12 of the Lakers’ 15 players without a contract for next season and the Lakers 15 games out of a playoff spot with 25 games left to play, Gasol indirectly challenged coach Mike D’Antoni to take control of his team that the 33-year old believes is being sabotaged by selfish play.

“That’s why you have to be disciplined and implement discipline, that’s how you kind of make that better or make that not a factor,” Gasol said when asked about the Lakers’ collection of players, himself included, on expiring deals.”I don’t think there’s a lot of discipline right now.”

When asked to detail what type of discipline he was seeking, Gasol brought up another issue, pointing to D’Antoni’s decision to play a small-ball lineup against the plus-sized Pacers.

“The type that will allow us to compete a little better,” said Gasol after Indiana outrebounded L.A. 62-42. “I think when you have a lineup like Zach [Randolph] and Marc [Gasol] tomorrow (the Lakers finish off their two-game road back-to-back Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies), you have to match up accordingly a little bit, I think. That’s just me.”

Things aren’t going to become any easier for Gasol to deal with.

In addition to having so many guys essentially playing to earn a spot elsewhere next season, you’ve got others who were just added in Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks playing heavy minutes, with no idea what the schemes are on either side of the ball.

Gasol is going to leave the Lakers in free agency this summer, so he too should keep his eyes firmly focused on the future. The season is a lost one in Los Angeles; Gasol should simply play it out to the best of his ability, because whatever complaints he has, however valid, aren’t going to change the team’s fortunes.

PBT Extra: Kobe Bryant understands now is time to walk away

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It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.

It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.

In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.

More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.

Luke Walton: Warriors concerned about health, not 72 wins

Andre Iguodala, Luke Walton
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Stephen Curry acknowledges the Warriors – who are 18-0 and won four straight to end last season – talk about the NBA record of 33 consecutive wins.

But what about another major record Golden State is chasing, 72 wins in a season?

Shooting guard Klay Thompson called it possible. General manager Bob Myers deemed it impossible.

Interim coach Luke Walton would prefer everyone just keep quiet.

Walton, via CSN Bay Area:

“The 72 thing is far, far away,” Walton said. “We shouldn’t be spending any time thinking about that.

“I’ve also said before that we’re not going to coach this season trying to chase that record,” Walton said

“We’re still going to give players nights off on back-to-backs,” he added. “And we’re going to do our best to limit minutes for some of our players. Our main concern is being healthy come playoff time.”

I don’t think Golden State will win 72 games, but prioritizing health won’t necessary stop the Warriors. They’re so deep.

They outscore opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when Curry sits, 5.6 when Draymond Green sits. Those marks would rank seventh among all NBA teams.

Golden State has the luxury of resting players and continuing to win. That’s what makes the chase for 72 realistic. This team is less likely than most to wear down late in a season where it’s pushing to win every game.

Health entering the playoffs is important, but a 72-win season would raise these Warriors to legendary status. If they’re in range late in the season, I think they’ll go for it – even if the top seed is already secured.

But for now, Walton is probably taking the right approach. Plenty of teams start fast (though never this fast) then drift back toward the pack. No point risking Golden State’s health yet.

Kevin Durant to media: You treated Kobe Bryant ‘like s—‘

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant once told the media, “You guys really don’t know s—.”

The Thunder star expressed regret, but if he knew how we were going to treat Kobe Bryant, he might have stuck to his guns.

Durant, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

I did idolize Kobe Bryant. I studied him, wanted to be like him. He was our Michael Jordan. I watched Michael towards the end of his career when he was with the Wizards, and I seen that’s what Kobe emerged as the guy for us.

I’ve been disappointed this year because you guys treated him like s—. He’s a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he’s playing, how bad he’s shooting. It’s time for him to hang it up. You guys treated one of our legends like s—, and I didn’t really like it. So hopefully, now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year. It was sad the way he was getting treated, in my opinion.

But he had just an amazing career, a guy who changed the game for me as a player mentally and physically. Means so much to the game of basketball. Somebody I’m always going to look to for advice, for help, for anything. Just a brilliant, brilliant, intelligent man. And it’s sad to see him go.

Kobe is shooting 20% from the floor and 30% on 3-pointers for a 2-14 team. How else should we describe his season?

Why not bash the person most publicly critical of Kobe? Or the many people around the NBA who recognize how far Kobe has fallen? Or Byron Scott, who has repeatedly intensified discussion of Kobe’s demise?

Why is the media, which is not some monolithic entity anyway, the primary target?

There are writers who fawn over Kobe, writers who criticize him and many more who do both. We don’t all think alike.

If we did, Durant would be bound to treat Kobe like s—, too.

Hassan Whiteside thanks Hassan Whiteside in Kobe Bryant tribute


Like many players, Hassan Whiteside posted a tribute to Kobe Bryant upon the Laker star’s retirement announcement.

But Whiteside’s is a bit, um, different.

Whiteside salutes himself for making Kobe smile. (That’s not a smile.) The Heat center also tweeted a screenshot of the Instagram post with the hashtag “#koberetire,” which sounds pretty commanding.

Is Whiteside in on the joke or is he that self-centered? I’m honestly not entirely sure.