In 2010-11, Phil Jackson cut back Kobe Bryant’s minutes by five a game over the previous year. Coincidentally, Kobe Bryant’s PER jumped from 21.9 to 23.9.
Last season, rookie coach Mike Brown leaned heavily on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, with Kobe’s minutes jumping back up to 2011 levels — he was fourth in the league in minutes per game at 38.4. Kobe’s PER returned to 21.9. (Gasol played the second most total minutes of any player in the league, behind only Kevin Durant.)
But this summer Kobe Bryant did not return to Germany for the blood-spinning procedure he has promoted in the past. Playing (and winning gold) in the London Olympics as well as other commitments didn’t leave time.
Which has Brown saying he plans to keep Kobe’s minutes down this year. He swears. Here is what official team Lakers reporter Mike Trudell tweeted:
Brown needs to treat the regular season like Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers do — sacrifice games in the short term if you need to so players get rest. What matters with an older team — and this means Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison and others as well — is being rested and healthy when the playoffs start. A top seed is nice, but a number two seed with a healthy, rested team is better.
Brown is saying the right things, but we’ll see if he does them.
The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.
A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:
“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.
He will not need surgery, according to the team.
Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.
Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.
How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.
If the goal of a trailer is to get you to want to see the movie, then well done Netflix. I’m in.
Netflix released a trailer for its upcoming Redeem Team documentary on the 2008 Olympics, featuring some vintage Kobe Bryant. Just as a quick refresher, in 2008 the USA’s toughest opponent would be a deep Spanish team led by peak Pau Gasol but also with Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Juan Carlos Navarro and more. This was a legitimately dangerous team and one the USA would face first in group play.
Kobe wanted to set a tone — and did by running through his friend Gasol. (Warning: There is NSFW language in the video clip below.)
“‘First play of the game I’m running through Pau Gasol.’ And we was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘First play of the game, I know what they’re gonna run.’ And he knew Pau was gonna be the last screen and he said ‘I’m running through him,'” Dwayne Wade said
Spoiler alert: The USA thrashed Spain in group stage play. However, come the Gold Medal game it was a lot tougher for the Americans to beat the Spaniards, with Kobe having to have a big fourth quarter and — what often goes unremembered — a master class from Chris Paul in game management to control the tempo and flow.
I’m all in for the documentary, which drops on Oct. 7 on Netflix.
Keldon Johnson is poised to have a monster season on a rebuilding Spurs team.
Except he’s going to miss the start of training camp and the team’s preseason games. And could be out longer.
Johnson suffered a “right shoulder posterior dislocation during Spurs open gym” the team announced Saturday. Posterior dislocations are rare (less than 5% of all dislocations) and are usually from a fall on an extended arm. Recovering from the injury depends on many factors but can extend out for months. However, the Spurs said Johnson is expected to be available for the start of the regular season less than a month from now.
Johnson averaged 17 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season, and is an elite perimeter shooter off the catch-and-shoot (39.8% from 3 overall), who also can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (to Dejounte Murray, who is now in Atlanta).
The Spurs will be cautious with bringing Johnson back. Even in what could be Gregg Popovich’s last season as coach the Spurs are looking more to be part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes than push for a playoff spot. Johnson is a quality player who helps San Antonio win games, which both is why they want him back healthy and why they are not going to rush him.
This could be a steal for the Cavaliers — Dean Wade could be the starting three for the Cavaliers by the end of this season and he’s got a genuine upside.
The Cavaliers have extended Wade for three years, $18.5 million, a story where multiple sources were on top of it, including Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Wade’s counting stats aren’t eye-popping — 5.3 points a game and shooting 35.7% from 3 — but he is a quality wing defender who has improved as a floor spacer (sometimes setting picks and popping out). He’s a two-way player who has put in the work and could pass Isaac Okoro on the depth chart this season.
The Cavaliers have four All-Stars who will undoubtedly be starting for them — Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley up front — and the looming question is at the three. Wade has a chance this season to step into that role.
Which makes extending him at a little over $6 million a season a potential steal for the Cavaliers.