“It would be natural for me to go do it. It wouldn’t be a stretch at all. I grew up here….
“You’d have to look at the market and what’s going on in terms of the level of basketball being played,” Bryant said. “I understand there’s a high level of competitive basketball in Turkey now. They might have the best league in Europe. Spain has obviously been one of the top leagues for a long time. And Italy is a place that’s dear in my heart, I grew up there, but the level is not where it used to be. When I was growing up over there, that was the best league in Europe.”
There is some logic to this. As Kobe said, he spent his formative years (years of elementary school and junior high) in Italy as his father played professionally there. He speaks Italian and Spanish and is very comfortable on the European circuit. He even talks of owning a soccer team.
Also, Kobe is still the biggest of the international brands among NBA players. LeBron James is the better player now — and you could argue Kevin Durant and others have passed him on the court at this moment — but nobody is an international star like Kobe.
But that’s one of he reasons I don’t think he would do it — right now there is a real mystique because Europeans only see him on television and in ads. To bring his declining game — still at a very high level, but where will his knees let it be in two years after his NBA contract runs out? Or a couple years after that if he re-signs? — could kill some of that mystery, but they would only see a shadow of the former Kobe.
Maybe that would be enough. Maybe. But my guess is Kobe rides off into the sunset after his NBA career ends. Whenever that is.
Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma trolling now in ad for Wish shopping app
For three seasons, Briante Weber has bounced around the fringes of the NBA. The defensive-minded point guard has played in short stints (often 10-day contracts) for the Grizzlies, Heat, Warriors, Hornets, and last season he got in 13 games for the Rockets (plus five in Memphis). He’s spent most of his career in the G-League, working for his chance to get in the door.
Miami is bringing him into training camp, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Guard Briante Weber has agreed to a partially guaranteed deal to return to the Miami Heat, league sources tell Yahoo.
There is roster space in Miami if Webber blows them away. Miami has 12 fully guaranteed roster spots and, with Webber, two partially-guaranteed deals (Malik Newman, who was undrafted out of Kansas, is the other).
Rather than a potential rebuild — or another “Russell Westbrook vs. The World” season — the Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the big winners of the off-season when Paul George agreed to re-sign with the team. They also moved on from Carmelo Anthony, will get Andre Roberson back from injury, and added Dennis Schroder to give them a shot creator off the bench.
“I’m very, very excited. Paul has been an unbelievable teammate, obviously a great friend. I’m very, very excited that he is back and we’re ready to make some noise. We are just going to take it one day at a time. I think our team has a lot of great, young talent. We have one goal now and that is winning a championship.”
While it’s hard to envision the Thunder reaching that goal (as constructed), the Thunder could well be the three or four seed in the West and have home court in the first round of the playoffs. While the margin for error in the West will be minuscule (with 12 teams having a shot at the eight playoff spots), with the Thunder’s strong top-10 defense and two stars who can take over games nightly, they should be one of the more consistent regular season teams in the West.
Either way, the Thunder are a lot more interesting with George than without. It’s going to be a good season for the Thunder.
PBT Extra: Carmelo Anthony officially a Houston Rocket now — this can work
Did the Houston Rockets get better this summer? The conventional wisdom is no, they will miss the switchable defense and versatility of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute against the NBA’s other elite teams.
But with Carmelo Anthony officially signing with the Rockets on Monday, don’t expect a big step back, something I cover in this latest PBT Extra.
The Rockets had the second-best offense in the NBA last season (almost tied with the Warriors) and ‘Melo can enhance that — he can still punish switches in the post, he has a catch-and-shoot game, and while he may not be as efficient as he once was, the man can get buckets. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, expect Mike D’Antoni to find him minutes while Chris Paul and James Harden rest where he can be an offensive focal point.