Kurt Helin

Kobe Bryant

Lakers may shut Kobe Bryant down for final two preseason games

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Kobe Bryant played in the first four Lakers preseason games and showed some strong moments and some others where he was clearly trying to shake off the rust of having missed far more games than he played the past two seasons.

Then, in game five, he suffered a bruised calf, he’ll have missed two games by the end of Monday night and that may be the end of his preseason as the Lakers take the cautious approach. But he’ll be ready to roll when the games matter. That’s what Laker coach Byron Scott said, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

“To be honest with you, [Bryant] probably won’t play [Monday],” Scott said after practice Sunday. “I’d rather get him close to 100 percent as possible. These games don’t mean anything right now. It’s really giving me a chance to look at these young guys anyway.”

Scott said Bryant might not play again this preseason. The Lakers have two games left: Monday and Thursday against the Warriors. “There’s a chance,” Scott said. “I’m not going to put a percentage on it, but there’s a chance….”

But Scott said he is confident that Bryant will “absolutely” play in the Lakers’ regular-season opener Oct. 28 against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center.

Shutting him down is the smart thing to do, a lot of teams are are sitting stars for the rest of the preseason to keep them fresh for the start of the season. LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers is the best-known example.

What matters is that Kobe will be playing once the games have some meaning in 10 days. We hope. If there is one thing I want for Kobe Bryant this season it is just to stay healthy, starting with getting his calf right.

Expect trade talk to pick up this week as roster cuts loom

Stan Van Gundy

The easy example of why trade talk will ramp up some this week — and there are likely a couple small deals — can be found in Detroit. The Pistons have 17 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster right now, and by next weekend Stan Van Gundy has to cut that number down to the 15 they can carry into the regular season — he is going to have to pay two players their full year’s salary to go away.

Unless SVG can find a trade partner to take on one or two of those salaries.

Some teams will be looking to make moves, something former Nets executive Bobby Marks laid out on twitter (this guy is a must follow).

There likely will be trades, and while exceptions are possible, these tend not to be guys who will see heavy minutes during the season.

It’s just something to keep an eye on this week.

Deron Williams will miss all of preseason, opening night in question

Deron Williams

Deron Williams‘ fresh start in Dallas may not begin when the season does.

Williams suffered a calf strain back before the start of training camp and at media day coach Rick Carlisle called it “minor.” His definition of minor and mine may be a little different, especially after this latest update from the coach via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Williams has battled injuries the past couple seasons in Brooklyn and one of the concerns in bringing him to Dallas was that injury bug could follow him.

The Mavericks have Devin Harris and J.J. Barea who can play the backup point guard spot, plus Raymond Felton is healthy again and played in the last couple preseason games. Dallas has the bodies to fill the position, but none of those players is as good as D-Will, they need the starter back.

In a ridiculously deep Western Conference where Dallas will be battling a few teams for the final playoff spots, they cannot afford a slow start to the season due to injuries.

Lamar Odom update: He continues to improve but remains in ICU

Lamar Odom

The good news keeps on coming for Lamar Odom in his recovery. He remains in the ICU, and there are still a lot of questions ahead about his health and ability to function, but more and more it looks like he will survive this health crisis.

Here’s the latest on his condition, via E! News (part of the NBC Universal family):

E! News has exclusively learned that Odom passed a swallow test, a promising sign of neurological function and an important step because doctors took out his breathing tube and needed to ensure he could swallow on his own.

We’ve also learned that Odom was helped out of bed for the first time since being hospitalized Tuesday night. He was moved with assistance into a chair and his breathing showed no signs of distress. He continues to wear a mask to aid the flow of oxygen but he’s breathing on his own….

Overall, however, the former L.A. Lakers star is communicating mainly with hand signals, thumbs up or thumbs down. We hear he’s attempting to communicate with words but his speech is more or less limited to mumbles at this point.

Odom — who had been in a downward spiral of addiction for a few years that friends around the NBA tried but could not pull him out of — was found Tuesday passed out at a brothel outside Las Vegas, where he had been for several days reportedly doing a variety of drugs (and spending $75,000). Odom has slowly showed signs of recovery, but he remains in the ICU and there are reports that not all his organs are healing as fast as his heart, and doctors have yet to assess the level of brain damage from the stroke (or strokes) he suffered.

Odom’s estranged wife Khloe Kardashian has been by his side and is making medical decision for him.

Kim Kardashian had been to see him as well and posted this on Instagram over the weekend.

Lakers, Warriors preseason game stopped due to of slippery court

Stephen Curry, D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Roy Hibbert

In the third quarter, Golden State’s Leandro Barbosa tried to make a move on the court at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. He was the fifth player to slip and fall on the floor in a game where even before tip-off some players had expressed concern about the conditions.

Referee Gary Zielinski has seen enough — he called the game off with 2:16 left in the third quarter. The fans who had paid to see the game booed, but player safety was always going to win the day — especially in the preseason. While Stephen Curry recovers and scores on this play — because he’s Stephen Curry — you get an idea of the issue.

Mark Medina has the details over at the Los Angeles Daily News.

“Sorry, but we’re trying to do what’s in the best interest of our players and the Golden State Warriors players,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “We don’t want anyone getting hurt, especially when it’s this time in the preseason and you can have a significant injury to one of the players playing major minutes for you.

“We all wanted to finish the game. But at this particular game, it wasn’t worth the risk.”

The Valley View Casino Center also hosts hockey games for the San Diego Gulls, an affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Lakers officials believed that the ice underneath the basketball court created wet spots, perpetuated because of the outside humidity.

Fans will be able to get refunds for their tickets by bringing the stub to the point of purchase, the Lakers announced.

Calling off the game before someone got hurt was the only call to make, nobody wants to see Curry or Kobe Bryant or Klay Thompson or anyone else miss time because of the condition of the court in a preseason game. Sorry San Diego fans.