Tag: Kobe Bryant

Toronto Raptors v. Philadelphia 76ers

Raptors coach threatens physical violence if Kyle Lowry isn’t voted in as an All-Star


Kyle Lowry was high on the list of All-Star snubs a season ago, and Raptors coach Dwane Casey wants to make sure it won’t happen again.

The Raptors are near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, and managed to stay there even while their leading scorer at the time, DeMar DeRozan, went down with an injury that forced him to miss his team’s last 18 contests.

Lowry has stepped up in a big way during DeRozan’s absence to avoid any such slippage, but in terms of All-Star voting, the fans haven’t seemed to take notice.

Lowry is just fourth among guards in the East, and with John Wall and Dwyane Wade seemingly too far out of reach, in order to make the All-Star team, Lowry will need to be voted in as a reserve by the coaches. And Casey threatened physical violence to those that may choose to do otherwise.

From Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca:

No one should have an issue with fans voting in the players they want to see as starters. It’s an exhibition, after all, and if people want to see Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant play in it because of their body of work (as opposed to whether or not they’re worthy of the honor in this particular season), then so be it.

But Lowry is on the flip side of the argument. Wade and Bryant getting those nods means one less roster spot in each conference for someone far more deserving. In the West, that’s probably going to cost someone like Klay Thompson the chance to make the team this season.

In the East, it’s a different story, as Lowry’s spot should ultimately be safe. But if for some reason it isn’t, the coaches who chose not to vote him in will need to watch their backs.

Report: Lakers tried to trade for Dion Waiters

Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers parted ways with Dion Waiters on Monday, as part of a three-team trade that involved the Thunder and the Knicks.

Cleveland received J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in exchange for Waiters, with Shumpert being the better asset, and Smith being the cost of doing business.

This was likely the best the Cavaliers could do under the circumstances, because once it became known around the league that Waiters was available, multiple teams came calling with offers — one of which was the Los Angeles Lakers.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:

Lakers were among teams that had tried to get Waiters. Cle wasn’t looking for just salary relief tho & Shump more valuable than Sacre

It’s fairly obvious that Shumpert is a more intriguing prospect than Robert Sacre, a seven-footer that’s put up meager averages in points and rebounds while coming off the bench to play 14.3 minutes per game in 34 appearances.

Cleveland’s glaring need, however, is a defensive big man to fill out its frontcourt rotation. It’s clear the Cavaliers didn’t see Sacre as the answer, but the fact that he was all that the Lakers had to offer in exchange for Waiters exposes a fundamental problem that Los Angeles is facing.

The Lakers have the cap space to add a superstar in free agency, but so far, none have chosen to come willingly to play alongside Kobe Bryant in the twilight of his career. That means in order to rebuild quickly, L.A. would need to trade for talent that’s currently under contract for the next couple of seasons.

But there are almost no assets the Lakers have that would get the type of talent back they are seeking.

It’s evident that Waiters was a problem child who wasn’t a fit for the Cavaliers. But he’s a talent on a rookie scale deal that the Lakers were willing to take a flier on, and Cleveland took on J.R. Smith’s questionable skill set and troublesome contract simply to send him away.

The chance that Smith could pay dividends, and the defensive help Shumpert can provide on the wing were worth it in Cleveland’s eyes. The Lakers, meanwhile, had nothing better to offer — a problem that was evident when the team tried to deal for Rajon Rondo before he ended up in Dallas, and one that is likely to resurface when similarly attractive players become available in the future.

Paul Pierce: Carmelo Anthony is toughest guy to cover in NBA

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

If you were listing the toughest covers for a forward in the NBA, the first names that might come to mind are LeBron James and his overwhelming athleticism (when healthy) combined with a high IQ game. Or maybe Kevin Durant, a long guy with the handles and quickness to create a little space — all he needs to get off a high-efficiency shot.

Paul Pierce, in a first-person piece at the Players’ Tribune, named the five toughest covers he’s had in the league. LeBron made that list, not surprisingly. Kobe Bryant did as well, which also makes perfect sense. There are some quality guys from the last generation on the list in Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter (yes, Carter is still in the league, but he’s not that Vince Carter anymore).

But Pierce reserved his highest praise for Carmelo Anthony.

If I had to single one guy out who is the most difficult player to guard in the league, it would have to be Carmelo. He’s a unique blend of being big, strong, and athletic while also having a world-class shooting touch and a natural ability to get to the rim. That’s what sets him apart — every facet of his game is elite.

Some great players will have one or two particular skills that make them special. But Carmelo can do everything, which puts you in a baaad situation as a defender. A lot of guys might shoot better from certain areas, so you try to force them elsewhere on the floor. Carmelo doesn’t have a spot on the floor where he can’t consistently hit shots.

In my opinion, his combination of physicality and shooting touch is unmatched in the NBA. You can’t take one second off when you’re matched up against him.

Anthony is unquestionably a difficult matchup for any defender because of his versatility.

But as a coach of the opposing team if Anthony is stopping the ball and using that versatility in isolation sets, if he is not swinging the ball to open teammates when his gravity pulls defenders to him, I can live with that. It’s going to be a rough night for the guy guarding Anthony, but if you can force him into inefficient shots — and Anthony has never been the king of efficiency — and not get him moving the rock, you can beat the Knicks. Anthony certainly has looked for his rather than played the triangle the way Tex envisioned this season.

That said, Pierce has been the guy trying to stop Anthony in games for more than a decade. He knows a tough cover when he sees it.