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.
Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.
Jay Williams of ESPN:
A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”
Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.
Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.
The NBA’s invitations to the draft are a good indicator of when players will get drafted. The league samples executives, who are more likely to be honest here than in leaks to the media, about how they rank players. So, the list is worth monitoring.
The players who will attend tonight’s draft nearly match the leaks – with one exception. O.G. Anunoby is going, and Harry Giles isn’t.
Here are the players who will be at the draft – a reasonable placeholder for the players most likely to get picked in the top 20 – via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:
Harry Giles declined his invite sources told DraftExpress.
Did Giles decline his invite because, with his extensive injury history, he feared falling too far? Or did he just prefer to watch elsewhere?
Was Anunoby simply 21st on the NBA’s list of players to invite? Or was the league too unsure of his medical status to include him until getting a stronger grasp now?
I don’t know, but the possibility that Giles could slip or Anunoby is more secure alters my perception of their draft stock (Anunoby up, Giles down).
What has Phil Jackson actually done? He discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis with other teams and called the Knicks, not Porzingis, his priority. That’s it.
At face value, this is fine. It’s what devoted executives, not always Jackson, should do.
Jackson hasn’t traded Porzingis for meager return. He hasn’t traded Porzingis at all.
Everyone up in arms should take a deep breath.
Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks trading Porzingis. The No. 1 pick got traded, after all. I wouldn’t rule out them trading Porzingis for too little return. Look at Jackson’s track record running the front office.
But wait until they do before bashing Jackson for not understanding Porzingis’ value.
There are plenty of better reasons to criticize Jackson, including overseeing the toxic culture that led to Porzingis skipping his exit interview and setting this latest “crisis” into motion. Publicly discussing trading Porzingis won’t endear Jackson to the budding star, but the problem is how it reached this point. Players in sound organizations can handle this. Jackson has engendered little confidence from his players, the distrust existed well before this round of trade talks.
Lonzo Ball doesn’t play for the Lakers. LeBron James isn’t a free agent.
But they’re headed that way – and Ball is already embracing it.
The Lakers are expected to draft Ball No. 2 tonight, and rumors are heating up about LeBron leaving the Cavaliers in 2018.
Why should LeBron join Ball in Los Angeles?
Ball on ESPN:
LeBron, I like to win. I know you like to win. I think our games can help each other out a lot. Any time you want the ball, just let me know. It’s going to be there.
Ball was asked to to pitch LeBron, so it’s not as if Ball is out here talking so brashly on his own. But answering the question was a rookie mistake.
Besides, I’m not sure Lonzo Ball can undo the bad blood between LeBron and LaVar Ball.