Author: Brett Pollakoff

kobe mitch

Lakers GM: If free agents don’t choose L.A. because of Kobe Bryant, ‘we don’t want them. You should go someplace else.’


The notion that free agents haven’t been willing to come to the Lakers in recent seasons because they don’t want to play with Kobe Bryant was brought up near the beginning of the season, but has been refuted by plenty of star players since.

The reality is that the only star-caliber players who have changed teams lately had very specific reasons for doing so. LeBron James was never going anywhere but back home to Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony stayed in New York to get the maximum amount of money allowed, and L.A.’s poor treatment and marginalization of Pau Gasol the past two years had him ready and willing to play somewhere (or perhaps anywhere) else.

Bryant has one year remaining on his contract, and though he’s expected to be healthy at the beginning of next season, no one can predict how long that will last. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said that Bryant hasn’t indicated that he will play beyond next season, but also mentioned that if Bryant’s presence is seen as a deterrent by free agents considering Los Angeles, then he doesn’t want them, and they should go play somewhere else.

From Baxter Holmes of

Kupchak was also asked if it’s important for free agents to have clarity on Bryant’s future plans with the Lakers, particularly if they’re wary of joining the team while Bryant is still playing, a notion that has been reported in recent years.

“I think it is clear,” Kupchak said. “He’s on the last year of his deal. There have been no discussions [about playing beyond next season]. He hasn’t indicated that he wants to continue to play.

“But if there is a player out there like that, that won’t come here for that reason, then we don’t want them. Every great player is demanding and focused, and if you don’t want to play for a guy like him that’s driven to do nothing but win championships and work hard, then you shouldn’t be here. You should go someplace else.”

This has been the stance the Lakers have taken all along, and they are right to do so.

Dwight Howard famously clashed with Bryant, and took less money to play for the Rockets. He may not have wanted to play with Bryant any longer, but I believe he left more because he couldn’t take the pressure of being the face of the franchise in a major market like Los Angeles once Bryant was gone.

That’s one example of the type of player the Lakers can’t afford to sign to a long-term, max-money deal as they look to reshape the franchise into a contender in the future. There certainly are others. But the Lakers organization needs a strong-willed star to carry it into its next era of greatness, and someone who would bristle at Kobe’s level of commitment or competitiveness simply isn’t a match.

Kent Bazemore after Hawks are blown out in Game 2: ‘I still think we’re the better team’

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One

After the Hawks were blown out in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, at least one of their players still believes.

While dropping the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home has put Atlanta in a severe hole, especially when considering the injuries the team is dealing with, Kent Bazemore said he still feels like his Hawks are the better squad, and possess the ability to play much better to try to get back into the series.

From Brian Windhorst of

“We played them in the regular season this year and got the best of them,” Bazemore said in reference to the Hawks’ 3-1 record against the Cavs this past season. “I still think we’re the better team. We just haven’t shown it yet.”

Bazemore scored seven points in 12 minutes off the bench and spent some time guarding LeBron James, who scored 30 points with 11 assists and nine rebounds.

“The bright side is we haven’t played well the first two games. We still think we’re the better team. We’ll try to get two up in Cleveland,” Bazemore said. “We’ve got to play angry.”

Hopefully this is simply a motivational tactic from Bazemore. Because if he truly believes this, then he’s completely delusional.

As we mentioned in the Game 2 recap, these Hawks are hell and gone from the dominating team that won 40 of its first 48 games of the regular season. Atlanta no longer shares the ball offensively the way it used to, when the team’s equal-opportunity offense was, for long stretches, seemingly impossible to stop.

DeMarre Carroll was completely ineffective in Game 2 as he played through a knee injury, and Kyle Korver left with an injury of his own that has his status in doubt for Game 3. These facts alone would make Bazemore’s claim seem silly. But when adding in the results of the first two games, it makes his statement patently false, and downright ridiculous.

Tristan Thompson meets Kent Bazemore at the rim, gets all ball on monster rejection (VIDEO)


An underrated storyline through the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals is just how well the Cavaliers’ bigs have performed on both ends of the floor.

In Cleveland’s blowout Game 2 victory, for example, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov combined for 17 points and 23 rebounds, and strongly impacted their team’s effort defensively

This particular play, where Thompson rose to meet Kent Bazemore at the rim for the monster rejection, was ruled a foul by the officials. But replays show the block was clean, and it’s just one example of the rim protection the Cavaliers have going for them at this stage of the playoffs.