Kobe tells Lakers’ fans to “flush” last season, has been cleared to run, shoot, prepare for next season

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As this just completed NBA season wore on, as Kobe Bryant worked to recover from a fractured knee, he distanced himself from a Lakers team that lost 55 games, the most in franchise history.

Distanced himself to the point that while the Lakers were finishing their season in San Antonio Wednesday night he was in France with his family.

But he still had time to send out a tweet.

When he returns Kobe will get serious about getting himself ready to lead the Lakers next season with a detailed recovery workout plan, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Kobe Bryant has been cleared to resume running and shooting and will begin an intense, six-month training program next week upon his return from a short family trip to Europe, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN…

While he is in Europe, Bryant will visit the clinic in Germany where he had the platelet-rich plasma treatment known as Orthokineon on his knee, according to a source. The visit to the clinic is a check-up to ensure all is structurally sound with his knee before he resumes intense training.

I have no doubt Kobe will be ready for next season. At what level he will be able to play at remains to be seen, but even a somewhat diminished Kobe will be someone opposing defenses need to account for. The Lakers are much better with him.

What the team around him will look like remains to be seen. There very well may be a coaching change with Mike D’Antoni let go (sacrificed in part to appease angry Lakers fans). The roster will look different. Kobe wants a Lakers team that can contend next season, but I want to be flying around in zero gravity with Kate Upton. We don’t always get what we want. It will be very difficult for the Lakers, with the assets they lack and the current free agent crop (or even trade market) to rebuild quickly.

However, with Kobe playing a full season next year is likely not one the Lakers will want to flush when it’s over.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.