Kobe Bryant played just six games last season for the Lakers, after taking plenty of time to recover from a torn Achilles injury suffered near the end of the previous season, and then missing the rest of the year after dealing with a fracture in his left knee.
The Lakers have been moving extremely slowly in terms of finalizing anything for next season — there are only three players on the roster committed to guaranteed contracts, and there is no head coach currently in place. Bryant’s status will have a lot to do with how the team proceeds, and he believes that he’ll be back to his old self by the time next season is upon us.
This is precisely the reason that the Lakers have been so cautious in their offseason approach.
If Bryant is back to his normal self, which would mean being a capable scorer in the 25 points per game range, that’s something the franchise wouldn’t want to take for granted in terms of its rebuilding process.
A healthy Bryant is a player the Lakers would want to try to build around — if not specifically for next season, then certainly for the following year when so many free agents of interest would be hitting the open market.
L.A. is a franchise that can’t afford to go through an extended rebuilding process, and would prefer to put a winning product on the floor as quickly as possible. A healthy Kobe Bryant changes everything in that regard, so the news that he’s 100 percent this far from the beginning of training camp is great — but it does put additional pressure on the front office to assemble an immediately capable roster.
With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.
There were a couple of good ones, however.
Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.
One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.
The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.
Bob Kravitz of WTHR
In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”
Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.
The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.
I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.
The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.
Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.
Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).
But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.
Could those issues derail his career?
Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:
“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”
On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.
But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.