Kobe Bryant says Lakers’ revenge will be “sweet” and “quick”

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This would be the definition of playing to the fan base. Although I’m sure Kobe Bryant believes it.

There has been plenty of schadenfreude around the league — from other front offices to other fan bases — as the Lakers have fallen into being a hot mess this season. They entered the season with a roster not really built to run Mike D’Antoni’s offense (remember last season when Kobe and Pau Gasol were healthy and basically did their own thing?) then were hit by a rash of injuries. All that has the Lakers at 20-39 and looking at a top 5 draft pick.

You know Kobe is using that as fuel.

He said exactly that in an interview on Power 106 in Los Angeles, as transcribed by Lakersnation.com.

“This year, we all know it’s been a real tough year for us right?” Bryant said. “So what I’d like everybody to do is to really just sit back and just absorb this year. Take it all in. Sit back and watch and listen and hear all the hate that’s being thrown at us and remember every person that’s kicking you when you’re down because next year it ain’t gonna be this way.

“Appreciate it now. Let it sit in now, because revenge is sweet and it’s quick….

“You’ve got to appreciate that and enjoy that and use that as fuel as motivation to basically just shut everybody the hell up,” Bryant said. “It’s that challenge, that challenge that drives us all, I think, and definitely keeps me going.”

That is exactly what much of the fan base believes, what it wants to hear. It wants Kobe to bring that revenge after he signed a two-year, $48 million extension to his current contract this season. He took a pay cut of about $7 million but will remain the highest paid player in the NBA.

We’ll see how quick the Lakers’ revenge really is. While having a healthy Kobe back would certainly win more games for the Lakers next season, this rebuild is going to take multiple years.

The fact is unless Miami’s trio shakes it up — and that is unlikely at best — there really isn’t much in this free agent market for the Lakers. Carmelo Anthony is a bad fit. Luol Deng is interesting but his price could be steep. The Lakers have their eyes more on 2015 with Kevin Love (and Rajon Rondo and others) and 2016 when there could potentially be Kevin Durant among others. (Durant and LeBron James are the two guys you have to plan to have cap space for just in case — Durant may well not want to leave OKC, but he’s so transformative that the Lakers and a lot of other teams need to have cap space just in case he does want to move.)

By the time this Lakers team is potentially back as a force, even under the best of plans, it will be interesting to see what Kobe’s role will be. Or if he will still be in the NBA.

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.