Tag: Kobe stopper

Kobe Bryant recruiting one time nemesis Raja Bell to join Lakers


Thumbnail image for Raja Bell clothesline.jpgYou want to earn Kobe Bryant’s respect? Battle him. Get up for the task and challenge him. Go at him. Compete. Kobe will still win a lot of those battles — because he is Kobe — but he respects the effort.

Raja Bell battled Kobe. In 2006 he taunted Kobe, was physical with him and knocked him down hard. Now Kobe wants him on his side, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.

Kobe Bryant and Raja Bell have been talking and texting and are about to meet face-to-face. The reason is Kobe wants Bell to take the remaining $1.8 million the Lakers have from mid-level exception. This is not new, Kobe has been going after Bell since before the free agency period opened.

Bell is a good fit in the triangle — he knocks down threes (over 40 percent the last six years) and he can defend hard. He can play minutes for the Lakers at the one or the two, spelling Kobe and Derek Fisher. Kobe and Fish’s knees will thank him.

Bell made over $5 million last year and is likely looking at money options. The Miami Heat are actively recruiting him, but they can’t offer any more money than the Lakers. It’s a matter of where Bell feels most comfortable. What he wants.

But Bell is going to find that Kobe can be very persuasive.

Guy making himself some money in the finals: Tony Allen

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Thumbnail image for tallen_bryant.jpgThere is no better time to be a free agent then after a good run in the playoffs. Just ask Hedo Turkoglu.

Boston’s Tony Allen is no Turkoglu — on a number of levels  — but he is a guy about to be a free agent coming off an impressive NBA finals.

Not on offense, but on defense. He has been the Celtics best defender on Kobe Bryant. Over at Haralabos Voulgaris’ Alone in the Corner blog, he broke down the numbers: When Kobe Bryant goes against Paul Pierce or Ray Allen, Bryant scores about .8 points per possession (think if Kobe took 100 shots he’d score about 80 points, which is still pretty good).

Tony Allen is holding Kobe to .54 points per possession.

How many teams out there need a good perimeter defender? You do sacrifice some offense with Allen — he shot just 25 percent beyond 16 feet and didn’t take a three all season for the Celtics. He’s only really a threat at the rim.

But off the bench, on a team where other guys are expected to score, he can play a quality roll. Like he has for the Celtics.

Allen made $2.5 million last year, and may well get offers north of that this summer. Not way north, not up to the mid-level exception, but maybe around $3.5 million for a couple years. That’s a fair price for a guy who can contribute on defense off the bench.

And those are offers he may not have gotten if his skills had not been exposed during these playoffs.

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 1: Kobe is hurt, Grant Hill is old. One will key a win tonight


Thumbnail image for Kobe_layup.jpgThrough the years, the one constant in the Lakers/Suns battles is that the Suns never really stopped Kobe Bryant. Raja Bell did a respectable job, but those were the days Kobe had to keep gunning because his other options were pass to Smush Parker or pass to Kwame Brown. Better to shoot over the triple team.

Slowing Kobe will again be crucial for Phoenix — the Lakers are going to get points inside from Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. The Suns are going to struggle with that. But if the Lakers are getting points from the perimeter, efficient points from Kobe as well, the Suns are in a lot of trouble.

Good luck Grant Hill, the job is all yours.

Grant Hill has been the defensive specialist for the Suns. He made the Trail Blazers offense sputter when he was on Andre Miller (well, that and Brandon Roy being injured made their offense sputter). He slowed Manu Ginobili of the Spurs last series.

Grant Hill is 37 years old. We are required by law to mention that. Doesn’t mean anything except one thing — he’s not as quick as he was at 25. Hill now relies more on veteran savvy and his fantastic basketball IQ than just pure foot speed anymore.

He is not as quick as Kobe Bryant anymore. In a pure isolation clear out, Kobe should be able to blow past Hill.

That “should” could be a “would” if not for one thing — Kobe’s not healthy. He has not practiced with his team once in the week off between series. He had his knee drained of fluid. His ankle is still sore, his finger still hurts. Kobe is not the explosive Kobe of old.

Kobe now relies much more on his veteran savvy, his basketball IQ to get the shots he wants in the offense. To set up his teammates.

And that’s where Game 1 gets really interesting — if Kobe is explosive enough to get the 28 points a game he is averaging in the playoffs in an efficient manner on Hill, the Suns are in trouble. They have to commit resources inside, they can’t bring reinforcements away from the basket, too. All that would mean the Lakers are getting easy baskets.

There are a lot of other things to watch — can the Suns keep the pace up? Can the Lakers slow the game by pounding the Suns inside? Can Pau Gasol guard Amare Stoudemire? Can Stoudemire guard Gasol? Who would win a footrace between Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum at this point? Smart money on the last one is on the tortoise.

But as always, things circle back to Kobe. During the season, the Suns used Jason Richardson on Kobe, and he backed Richardson down in the post and beat him up pretty good. The Lakers won three of four. If Hill doesn’t change that equation, the Lakers will win four in this series pretty quickly.