It’s this simple: The Lakers players believe if management will bring this core with Mike D’Antoni as the coach for one more season they can make a serious run at a title.
Those Lakers see themselves as the side that went 28-12 for a stretch once guys started to get healthy and found a style that fit. They think they found something that works. They want another shot.
Specifically, Kobe Bryant wants another shot.
Steve Nash told the media that earlier during the Lakers exit media sessions.
We’ll see if that happens. Dwight Howard said he would take his time in making a decision, but the smart money is betting he will be back.
Bryant also admitted the Lakers need to get more athletic, to get more speed. That’s where things get tricky — the Lakers are so far over the luxury tax line that all they can offer is one taxpayer’s mid-level deal ($3 million or so) and then minimum deals. And the kind of athletes the Lakers need will get better offers elsewhere. The Lakers could try and find a trade that works for those athletes, but the only trade asset of real value on the team is Pau Gasol. And to trade him breaks up the core.
As for his Achilles, Kobe understood this was going to take time (he admitted he would not likely be ready to play when the Lakers head to China in the preseason. But he could be back somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Kobe said he understood that he would not be quite the same player.
I’ve already told you I think the Lakers can’t come back exactly the same team next year. But we also don’t really know what the core of this team could have done if healthy and with a training camp under a coach there the entire season. This last season was a perfect storm of things going wrong for the Lakers, they think they’ve gotten through the bad Karma.
From the moment it became clear Carmelo Anthony was going to join the Rockets — which was a long time before he actually signed the contract on Monday — the questions started:
Would he accept a reduced role with the Rockets? Maybe come off the bench? Be Olympic ‘Melo and blend in with the team?
Coach Mike D’Antoni said he spoke with Anthony and said the player is open to coming off the bench, but he’s not sure what ‘Melo’s role will be. When ambushed by TMZ trying to walk to his car, Anthony said basically the same thing.
“Let’s just let it play out, though. I don’t even know what’s going on. I just signed, let it start first.”
Anthony coming off the bench, being the fulcrum of the offense when James Harden and Chris Paul are on the bench makes some sense (CP3 and Harden are better and more efficient shot creators than Anthony at this point). It’s a chance for Anthony to get his touches and help the other two rest. However, the idea of Anthony starting the first and third quarters and getting heavy touches then but sitting more later is not out of the question.
At the end of close games, D’Antoni is more likely to lean on James Ennis — a long, switchable defender who can shoot threes in the Trevor Ariza mold — than Anthony. It will be just a better fit. Will Anthony roll with that? Will it cause problems in the locker room?
Let’s just let it play out.
Remember when the NBA cracked down on hazing?
It was 2013, and the Miami Dolphins were in the midst of a bullying scandal. The NBA wanted to avoid similar problems.
But enforcement of the NBA’s guidelines was clearly fleeting, a temporary overreaction to the Dolphins’ issues.
By the very next season Andre Drummond and the Pistons were hazing rookie Spencer Dinwiddie.
Kristian Winfield of SB Nation:
Thankfully, Dinwiddie appears to take this in good fun. Context matters, and if the team welcomed him overall, this could be just a harmless prank.
And Dinwiddie has gotten revenge – flourishing with the Nets, including hitting a game-winner at Detroit last season.
LeBron James sent Magic Johnson an ardent happy-birthday tweet last year. Then, LeBron eventually provided the best gift imaginable – signing with Johnson’s Lakers.
I think Johnson is having a good 59th birthday today. But I can’t say for certain – because the video he posted is pixelated and has distorted audio:
That prompted Lonzo Ball to tweet:
That’d be a pretty nice gift. But I don’t think it’ll endear Ball over LeBron.
There’s reportedly friction between Jimmy Butler and his Timberwolves teammates, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
It’s not hard to see why. Butler pulled himself up from the bottom and has developed an understanding of how he got here. He has shown little patience for those who don’t match his work ethic and competitiveness. The younger Wiggins and Towns are former No. 1 picks who seem too content at times.
Anyway, Butler posted this photo to Instagram:
Butler appears to be talking – almost certainly in jest – about his trainer (Chris Johnson), agent (Bernie Lee) and chef (Christian Bowman). After all, those three are behind him in the picture.
A commenter brought up Wiggins and Towns, saying Butler should lead those two, and Butler shot back:
This has gotten spun into evidence of strife in Minnesota. I don’t see it. That strikes me as a retort to the commenter, not a shot at Wiggins and Towns.
Besides, if you’re looking for evidence of the Timberwolves’ internal problems, there’s more than enough elsewhere.