The big headlines involving Lakers’ rookie D’Angelo Russell and Kobe Bryant this off-season came from an innocuous comment about Tracy McGrady and Kobe’s amusing Twitter reaction.
But the Lakers drafted Russell No. 2 because they saw a little Kobe in him, in the way he approached the game. They saw the mentality that helped make Kobe a star.
Russell threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium recently (he threw a strike) and before he went out he talked with Serena Winters of Lakers Nation about his mentality and what he sees in Kobe (hat tip Matt Moore at Eye on Basketball).
“I always preach, I didn’t get here from being the most athletic guy, the fastest guy, the tallest guy, or the strongest, I got here from my mind.”
And, that’s also what he respects so much about Kobe Bryant.
“That’s something when I watch Kobe interviews or listen to Kobe talk, he’s mentally on another level, when I listen to him, I relate to that.”
Russell is saying the right things, although following through with a Kobe-like mentality is different from talking about it. We’ll see where Russell ultimately falls on that scale.
It’s been discussed plenty that Russell didn’t have a great Summer League, that he was trying to do too much, and he struggled to catch up with the speed of the game. It’s also almost meaningless — plenty of players who had rough Summer Leagues had good seasons, while the list of Summer League MVPs who didn’t do much in the league is long. What matters is what Russell learned and how he grows from that experience. Can he apply those lessons when the games get real in late October?
That will be the true test of his mentality, because the learning curve for point guards in the NBA is steep.
Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley sent out a press release complaining about the NBA’s list of approved social-justice messages for jerseys.
ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski replied to the email, “F— you.” (Wojnarowski did not censor the first word.)
Wojnarowski apologized. ESPN condemned his behavior and, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, suspended him two weeks.
Several NBA players have publicly supported Wojnarowski:
Lakers star LeBron James:
Clippers guard Lou Williams:
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley:
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray:
Heat big Bam Adebayo:
Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie:
Kings forward Harrison Barnes:
Pacers center Myles Turner:
Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver:
Wizards wing Troy Brown Jr.:
Trail Blazers guard Jaylen Adams:
LeBron’s message is particularly notable.
Obviously, he’s the NBA’s biggest star. His words carry weight.
Wojnarowski also has a long history of harshly criticizing LeBron. Here are just a few examples.
But if he can get over The Letter from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, LeBron can probably get past anything written about him.
Still rounding out their roster for the NBA restart in Orlando, the Brooklyn Nets have reached out to bring back veteran forward Lance Thomas.
Thomas, who went through training camp with Brooklyn but was cut right before the season, will sign as a substitute player for Brooklyn, reports Alex Smith with SNY.TV.
Thomas is an eight-year NBA veteran who spent the last four of that with the Knicks. He can play the three or a floor-spacing small four, with New York using him more as a power forward in recent years. He’s averaged 5.2 points per game in his career and is known more as a good player to have in the locker room and guy who can soak up 15-20 minutes a night and not hurt a team. Brooklyn had Thomas in at training camp and liked his fit, but they didn’t have a roster spot for him.
They do now. Three Nets players — Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, and Taurean Prince — tested positive for the coronavirus and will not be at the Orlando restart. Wilson Chandler opted out of playing. All four of them can be replaced by substitute players for the remainder of this season, so the Nets signed Jamal Crawford, Michael Beasley, and Donta Hall. Thomas rounds becomes the fourth member of that group. (Note: The Nets cannot sign players to substitute for Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant because they are out due to injury; substitute players are only for players missing due to coronavirus issues.)
Thomas will be a free agent this offseason.
Lance Thomas and Brooklyn enter the bubble in Orlando as the seven seed in the East.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Davis will wear his own name on the back of his jersey when the Los Angeles Lakers return to action.
Davis confirmed his decision Sunday in a conference call from Orlando, where the Western Conference-leading Lakers are beginning team workouts.
Davis and LeBron James both declined to choose a social justice message to replace their names on the back of their jerseys during the NBA restart.
Davis, a seven-time NBA All-Star, said he was “torn between” choosing from among the 29 approved messages and sticking with his name.
“For me, I think the name ‘Davis’ is something I try to represent every time I step on the floor,” he said. “I just think my last name is something that’s very important to me, and also social justice as well. But (I’m) just holding my family name and representing the name on the back to go through this process … and people who have been with me through my entire career to help me get to this point, while still kind of bringing up things that we can do for social injustice.”
James said he decided to forgo a social justice message because the available options didn’t “resonate” for him or his particular feelings about the movement. James would have liked to choose his own slogan, but wasn’t angry that it wasn’t allowed.
Both James and Davis have been outspoken about social justice causes in the past, although the younger Davis is less vocal than James.
The Lakers open play in Orlando on July 30 against the Clippers.
The Lakers guard depth is getting hit hard. First, Avery Bradley chose to stay home from the NBA restart in Orlando for family reasons. Now this:
Rajon Rondo fractured his thumb during practice on Saturday and will need surgery that will sideline him 6-8 weeks, the team announced.
On the optimistic side, that timeline should have Rondo back for most or all of the conference finals and NBA Finals. Rondo has a history of hand injuries.
The Lakers cannot sign a substitute player to replace Rondo (that is only for players with COVID-19 related absences, or who opted out, but not injuries).
Rondo came off the bench for the Lakers this season, averaging 7.1 points and five assists a game. More importantly, he was the guy running the offense when LeBron James was off the court, something that will be difficult to replace. He is not the defender and player he once was, but he fit with the Lakers.
Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook will get some extra run, plus it opens up room for veterans Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith.
The Rondo injury is not going to put the Lakers in danger in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but if he is not back and 100% in the conference finals (very possibly against a deep Clippers team) and the Finals, this will be a blow to L.A.