Tag:Kobe Bryant
Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:58 am
Edited on: February 20, 2012 2:06 am
 

Kobe Bryant: Pau Gasol trade limbo must end

Kobe Bryant pushes Lakers management to make a decision on Pau Gasol's future. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

It's time for the agonizing waiting game and endless trade rumors to end, according to Kobe Bryant.

Following a double-digit Sunday night loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard ramped up his recent public comments aimed at his team's management, stating clearly that it was time for the Lakers to make a decision regarding the future of big man Pau Gasol.

ESPNLA.com reports that Bryant summed up the situation bluntly: trade Gasol or publicly acknowledge that his future will be in Los Angeles.

"Basketball is such an emotional game, you got to be able to have all of yourself in the game and invested in the game. We didn't have that," Bryant said after Gasol had 17 points and 12 rebounds against the Suns. "Pau, it's hard for Pau because of all this trade talk and all this other stuff, it's hard for him to kind of invest himself completely or immerse himself completely into games when he's hearing trade talk every other day. I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him."

"I talked to (Gasol) a little bit about it," Bryant said. "It's just tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow. I'd rather them not trade him at all. If they're going to do something, I wish they would just (expletive) do it. If they're not going to do it, come out and say you're not going to do it. This way he can be comfortable, he can go out, he can play and he can invest all of himself into the game."

On Saturday, Bryant said that ongoing trade rumors were affecting Gasol's play and that the Spanish center had his support.

"Personally I don't understand that crap," Bryant said about the rumors, according to the Los Angeles Times. "But it is what it is. It's important for him to know we support him. I support him especially. I just want him to go out there and play hard and do what he does best for us."

Those comments came a little more than a week after Bryant said he was "sure" the Lakers would make roster moves prior to the trade deadline.

Gasol, 31, was not named to the Western Conference All-Star team for the first time since 2008. His numbers this season -- 16.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 blocks per game on 49.5 percent shooting -- aren't terrible, but his scoring average is currently a career-low and his shooting percentage has dipped a few points since last year.

Of course, Gasol was nearly traded to the Houston Rockets back in December as part of a 3-team blockbuster that would have sent New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Lakers. That deal was nixed, and Paul wound up with the Los Angeles Clippers, while Gasol remained in Los Angeles, his future uncertain. The rumors including Gasol have been fairly steady since December, with a potential trade scenario involving the Minnesota Timberwolves surfacing last week

While still one of the league's most productive and versatile big men, Gasol has a monster contract. He's on the books this year for $18.7 million and has a 2012-2013 salary of $19 million and a 2013-2014 salary of $19.2 million, according to StoryTellersContracts.com. That figure, combined with Gasol's age, limits the Lakers' potential trade partners to teams that are serious about making a playoff run immediately. Otherwise, what's the point?

It goes without saying that public pressure from a superstar on management is less than ideal for the Lakers, who dropped to 18-13 with the loss on Sunday. Bryant seems to be giving his endorsement to Gasol and seeking the same from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, an action which would essentially handcuff the Lakers at next month's trade deadline. Other than Gasol and franchise center of the future Andrew Bynum, there's not a true trade asset on the roster, although the Lakers do possess a trade exception generated by the Lamar Odom dump to the Dallas Mavericks.

In other words, a definitive public statement on Gasol's future would really paint the Lakers into a corner. It's a nice thing for Bryant to say and it might make Gasol feel better, but there are two dualling goals here -- getting Gasol comfortable and doing whatever it takes to upgrade the Lakers roster -- and it's impossible for Lakers management to do both right now.
Posted on: February 18, 2012 3:36 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 3:45 pm
 

Bryant says Gasol affected by trade rumors

Pau Gasol has been the subject of trade rumors all season long in L.A.. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

Kobe Bryant told reporters Friday that he believes the constant trade rumors surrounding Pau Gasol have negatively impacted him. From the Los Angeles Times: 
Though it appears pointing out a discrepancy involves splitting hairs, Bryant believes reports linking Gasol in a trade has made it "an emotional couple of days for him."

"Personally I don't understand that crap," Bryant said regarding the Lakers' effort to trade Gasol. "But it is what it is. It's important for him to know we support him. I support him especially. I just want him to go out there and play hard and do what he does best for us."
via Kobe Bryant: Trade speculation has made Pau Gasol emotional - latimes.com.

Now that's nothing new, with Gasol having off-court issues affect his performance as they did during an understandably rough time in the playoffs last spring. But it is telling that both Bryant and Gasol are not denying that he's on the block or being shopped constantly. This is yet another impact of the vetoed Chris Paul trade and subsequent fallout.

The Lakers took a step backward when they were forced to trade Lamar Odom because of his sense of betrayal over being involved in the Paul deal David Stern vetoed. In order to overcome that, the Lakers are considering a trade, which will have to involve Gasol due to the low value of their supporting players, ownership's belief in Andrew Bynum, and the fact they have to trade for a significant upgrade at the star level and not role players support. So Gasol is discussed, and with media so prevalent, rumors get out, as well as I'm sure discussions being held with Gasol regarding this situation. 

For his part, Gasol says things are not affecting him, that he's blocking it out and playing, and to be fair, his numbers aren't significantly down, outside of his field goal percentage which is below 50 percent for the first time in nearly a decade. But there's an impact, and it's continuing to keep the Lakers out of the elite tier of teams. Until this situation is resolved one way or another, Gasol will have to play through it. 
Posted on: February 12, 2012 6:24 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 11:27 pm
 

Report Card: Celtics survive Rose-less Bulls

Posted by Royce Young

 Rondo put together maybe the finest lines of the season when his team needed it most. (Getty Images)

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.

Rajon Rondo
Rondo's line: 32 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds. That, boys and girls, is quite the triple-double. When the Celtics needed something from someone the most, Rondo was there. He played his best game of the season, albeit against C.J. Watson and not against Derrick Rose. Still, he stepped up big time for Boston and carried his limping team to a win.
Kobe Bryant
Kobe isn't always as clutch as some like to pretend he is, but he still can hit that shot that breaks your back. With the Lakers looking at an ugly loss in Toronto, Kobe drilled an impossible baseline jumper to put L.A. up one, which they held on to for a tougher-than-expected win over the scrappy Raptors. 27 points on 23 shots is probably more "B" worthy and the Lakers won this game because of Pau Gasol but who cares, game-winner!
Boston Celtics
The Celtics need wins any way they can get them. And if that means beating the Bulls without Derrick Rose, so be it. It's still a win over the East's best team (record wise), which counts for something. Boston had dropped two straight including a bad one to the Raptors. The Celtics tried to blow a 14-point lead late in the fourth but held on to put away a nice win. So they didn't have to beat Rose. Boston's taking them any way it can get them. Besides, the Bulls have played pretty well without Rose and the rest of that roster isn't trash.
Chicago Bulls Down three with a minute left, you know Tom Thibodeau had to be looking at Derrick Rose thinking, "Hmm, maybe I could squeeze just a minute..." Even without their MVP, the Bulls battled back from 14 down and had a real chance to completely devastate the Celtics. They came up short, but it was definitely a noble effort. And finished 6-3 on a nine-game road trip.
Boston's "Big 3"
Good thing Rondo did the heavy lifting, because the Celtics' Big Three certainly did not. Kevin Garnett's help defense was terrific, but in terms of the box score, Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for just 33 points on 12-27 shooting. Again, Rondo had 32 by himself.
C.J. Watson Filling the shoes of Derrick Rose is like stepping into a couple size 50s. C.J. Watson has done serviceable work, but he was very average against Boston. He gave up a triple-double to Rondo and while he had 23 points, he needed 23 shots to get it and took a miserable, contested deep 2-pointer with 22 seconds left and the Bulls down three.
Chicago's bench
Most like to call the Bulls' bench mob the best in the league, but they were completely worthless Sunday. A total of 16 points on 6-23 shooting from the Chicago reserves. John Lucas III actually was their top scorer off the pine with eight. That's not going to get it done when you don't have Rose. 
Scott Foster
The same official that blew the goaltending call in the Portland-Oklahoma City game appears to have gaffed again with a crucial late call in the Toronto-Lakers contest. The Raptors had possession with four seconds left down 93-92, taking the ball out at midcourt. With Dwane Casey trying to call a timeout from the bench, Foster called the Raps for a five second call after failing to get the ball in. Problem is, besides missing the timeout from Casey, is Foster appeared to blow the whistle at four seconds. (Update: The NBA says Foster got the call right with the official time being 5.8 seconds. He still didn't award Casey a timeout though.)

Posted on: February 11, 2012 1:22 am
Edited on: February 12, 2012 2:18 pm
 

Jeremy Lin, Knicks beat Lakers: photo gallery

Posted by Ben Golliver

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin scored a career-high 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, sending the Madison Square Garden crowd into a tizzy time and again with his big shot-making. (You can watch every basket here, if you missed it live.) 

Lin, a Taiwanese-American guard from Harvard, has emerged as a major, pleasant surprise for the Knicks. New York's win over Los Angeles was its fourth consecutive victory, and Lin's 89 points in his first three career starts are more than any player has scored in their first three starts since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976-1977, according to ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Knicks reportedly considered waiving Lin prior to his recent explosion and he had been crashing on a teammate's couch. His sensational play this week led his former GMs to admit their mistakes in cutting him, it drew comparisons to the breakout success of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, and it inspired a song. "Linsanity" has gotten so big that, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported, Lin received some pre-game advice from Lakers forward Metta World Peace.

Here's a visual look back at Lin's magical night against the Lakers on Friday, from start to finish.

All photographs courtesy of Chris Chambers and Nathaniel S. Butler for Getty Images.

Lin's image is shown on the jumbrotron during player introductions. (Chris Chambers, Getty Images)

Lin swoops in for the lay-up in transition after the Knicks defense forced a first half turnover. (Chris Chambers, Getty Images)

Lin skies for a reverse lay-up over Lakers big man Pau Gasol during the second half. (Nathaniel S. Butler, Getty Images)

Lin celebrates with his teammates after knocking down a second half jumper as Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni tries to hide his excitement. (Nathaniel S. Butler, Getty Images)

Lin holds his release on a fourth quarter 3-pointer, as the Madison Square Garden crowd cheers him on. (Nathaniel S. Butler, Getty Images)

Lin went head-to-head with Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, who made headlines on Thursday by admitting he didn't know much about Lin's recent play. (Nathaniel S. Butler, Getty Images)

Two of Lin's fans wear his jersey and hold iPads bearing his image and name. (Nathaniel S. Butler, Getty Images)

Three Lin fans catch "Linsanity" with t-shirt designs bearing the letters in his name. (Nathaniel S. Butler, Getty Images)

Two Knicks fans seated courtside wear Jeremy Lin masks to show their support. (Nathaniel S. Butler, Getty Images)
Posted on: February 10, 2012 10:26 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 2:20 pm
 

Kobe Bryant pass to himself off backboard, assist

Posted by Ben Golliver

Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant threw a pass to himself off the backboard to set up an assist to All-Star forward Pau Gasol during the fourth quarter of a Friday night game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

It was Bryant's only assist on the night. He finished with 34 points and 10 rebounds in a 92-85 loss to the Knicks. Bryant was overshadowed by a career-high 38 points by Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, as "Linsanity" was at full tilt for much of the evening

Still, this was a remarkable play, as Bryant was clearly trapped, lost his dribble and was dealing with heavy defensive pressure. That a play as unusual and smoothly executed as this -- made by the league's most recognizable star, no less -- could be a footnote shows exactly how big the Lin phenomenon is right now. This is Lin's world, for now, and we're all just living in it.  

Here's video of Bryant's tricky self-pass off the backboard, assist to Pau Gasol combination play against the Knicks.

Posted on: February 9, 2012 5:21 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 5:32 pm
 

Is Kobe Bryant getting restless?

Kobe Bryant says the Lakers will make a trade before the deadline. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

In high school, a girlfriend bought me a a button that says "conscientous agitator." My wife constantly refers to my combative tone as "poking large bears in the bum with pointy sticks." So I'm pretty familiar with how to say things that aren't technically saying things while actually saying exactly what the thing is not supposed to say... you might say. And I'm saying that Kobe Bryant is trying to say something in his recent comments this month. Let's take a dip in the oily pool, shall we?

From the Los Angeles Times on February 1st:
"Because of the changes in the players and so forth, you just can't come out of the gates and fight for a 1 seed or a 2 seed," he said. "That's just not realistic, but we want to build and get better and go into the playoffs with momentum."
via Lakers FYI: Kobe Bryant says other teams are still worried about the Lakers - Los Angeles Times.

In that same article he warns that the Lakers could be dangerous when the playoffs start. But this is Kobe Bryant, obsessed with winning, talking about how his team can't reasonably expect to be the first or second best team in the West, and that his team might be dangerous. That was eight days ago. Thursday on ESPN radio, via ESPN LA Bryant said he was sure the team would make a trade as we discussed here. Here are more comments from Bryant:
" They obviously tried to pull the trigger on a trade that they thought was going to improve our team with CP and it just didn't happen. But, that shows me that they're thinking in the right direction in terms of doing things to improve our ballclub. So that's why I'm not really tripping on it. We have to be patient and we have to make the right moves and I'm sure we will."

"The motivation is for us to build a contender," Bryant said. "It's not to just kind of sit around and see what falls in our lap. That's not the impression that I get from management at all, so I think that allows me to be patient. You can't just rush into things and then you make bad decisions, you make bad choices, you're locked into bad contracts. So, it's important to be patient, make right choices and we'll be fine."
via Driven Kobe Bryant thinks Los Angeles Lakers will 'tweak' team - ESPN Los Angeles.

The standard duck-and-cover answer for whether you think an organization will make a trade is "I don't know. I don't worry about those things. That's something (the team's GM) worries about." It's simple. It's easy. It's effective, it closes off all doors. 

What Bryant did is the opposite of that.

He's essentially pushed the organization to make a move. That's the star, the face of the franchise, the second-best-to-best player in the history of the most successful team in the NBA publicly stating that he expects his team will make a move. The hidden implication there is that he expects that because to do otherwise would be a mistake. He's not calling out teammates, he's not speaking directly about Dwight Howard or Deron Williams, though he said he'd like to play with "both of them." But he's putting it out there that going into the playoffs with Bryant chasing his sixth ring with this configuration is not acceptable. 

There's no "We've got Andrew and Pau and Metta" or "I believe our coaches can win with this roster." Just "We could be dangerous when the playoffs come around. Bryant in the interview actually specifically discusses why this situation is different from the beginning of the 07-08 season when he was demanding a trade. Which means he considers things to be bad enough to compare the two situations. Again, not trying to connect phantom trains here, but with Bryant there's always the implication of what he doesn't say when he says something. It's easy to provide a transluscent answer that gives a reporter or interviewer nothing. Instead Bryant openly said "expect change" which isn't far from "we'd better trade someone so I don't feel like I have to score 40 (on 30 shots, he'll conveniently omit) every game."

Meanwhile indications from multiple outlets suggest Dwight Howard has soured on the Lakers, which would mean that Deron Williams if off the table as the Nets would be firmly in the top spot for Howard. With Chris Paul playing the other nights at Staples, the Lakers are running out of All-Stars to go get Bryant.

Maybe Bryant is as patient as his quotes claim he is. But there's a pattern forming, and it suggest a Black Mamba unhappy with how tight his cage is.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 4:30 pm
 

The Lakers, Celtics, and a window propped open

The Lakers and Celtics don't seem like contenders this year, but has their window really closed? (Getty Images)


By Matt Moore
 

Lakers vs. Celtics just doesn't have the same umph to it it usually does, does it?

I mean, it's not like we're talking about lottery squads. The Lakers are 14-11, the Celtics 14-10. Neither team is below .500 even if neither team is remarkably above. Kobe Bryant? Still walking into the Garden Thursday night. Same for Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo. The only real players missing from their titanic clashes over the past four years are Kendrick Perkins, feuding with LeBron over someone else's dunk on him, and Lamar Odom, struggling to be the Lamar Odom he was with the Lakers without the Lakers, (or Phil Jackson). The cast of characters is essentially still in place.

But this feels more like a sideshow game, a "don't call it an old timer's game" than a showdown between contenders. Suddenly it's the Lakers and Celtics trying to prove that they can still do it, can still facedown the younger, hungrier teams and make a run at the title.

The Lakers are lethargic. Everything on offense seems so difficult. Kobe Bryant's brilliant scoring numbers are lauded by scribes who aren't bothering to check how many shots he's putting up. We've gotten to the point where Lakers fans are more consciously aware of where Bryant is at in his career than the scribes who are paid to watch on a nightly basis. Because "Kobe Bryant, once and always scoring king" is a better story. Let's not get this confused. Bryant's not Joe Johnson here. He's got a 23.4 PER. He's shooting 44 percent from the field. But the reality is that Bryant's forcing this, as much as he's ever forced it. Maybe he has to because of he offense, which seems to meander between helpless and workman-like. The Lakers are winning more games than they're losing. But they're also losing so many games they once dispatched with ease.

The Celtics are just sloppy. They're on a tear, a five-game winning streak, and have been pounding teams back into the dirt. But there are still long stretches where you can tell the Celtics just struggle with what to do. Paul Pierce has picked up his play, Ray Allen is still knocking down shots, and Kevin Garnett is still doing Kevin Garnett things. But there's a general lack of cohesion, a lack of precision, a failure to execute cleanly that we've seen in the past. This is still a very good team. But it doesn't feel like the Celtics of old.

So is Thursday night's game meaningless? Is the window closed?

Absolutely not. Bryant, in the L.A. Times:
Though they may falter on the road and remain in the middle of the playoff pack, Bryant didnt seem overly concerned looking ahead to May.

"I don't know too many people that are comfortable playing us, know what I mean?" he said, smiling.

He hoped the Lakers could snare some momentum over the next couple of months, gradually improving as the regular season winds down."If you figure things out going into the postseason and you get a good rhythm, that's what you want, especially in a short season," he said.
via Lakers FYI: Kobe Bryant says other teams are still worried about the Lakers - Los Angeles Times.

Bryant's on target here. Because the same thing that ensures neither team will be able to acquire a top-three seed in all likelihood is the very thing that ensures that trying to dig them out of the playoffs will be like getting shrapnel out of wood with a spoon.

Experience.

There's a not-so-secret adage that says that young teams don't win titles. Experienced teams do. The Spurs, the Celtics, the Lakers, the Mavericks. The Mavericks spoke very strongly last spring of the benefits of having players who knew how to respond, to keep their cool, to execute consistently. The Celtics and Lakers have precisely those teams.

This season is about survival, it's about simply managing to get through this brutal, compact season, avoid long-term injuries and make it into the dance, so to speak. Once that happens, the game changes. The pace slows down, where the Celtics are more comfortable. The Lakers' length and size become dramatically different in terms of impact. Kobe Bryant's efficiency becomes less important because all efficiency is impacted by the style of play. Pau Gasol's versatility becomes an asset. The Celtics' savvy in drawing and avoiding fouls frustrates teams. Does that mean that either will be representing their conference in the Finals? Not necessarily. But it does mean that dealing with them will not be easy. The Heat may have dismissed the Celtics last season, but there's no reason to think the Celtics can't turn a few more opportunities into wins. The Lakers were trounced by a Mavs team that no longer exists. In fact, the Lakers could very well be a different team in a matter of weeks. 

The Boston-L.A. rivalry resumes Thursday night, and it doesn't feel the same as it once did.

But maybe it will provide both with a reminder of how good they can be, and how very much they would like to see the other again sometime in June.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:42 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 1:57 pm
 

Report: Lakers to retire Shaq's jersey in 2012-13

Shaquille O'Neal's jersey is reportedly headed for the Staples Center rafters. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

The plan is finally starting to come together.

In the immediate aftermath of Shaquille O'Neal's retirement back in June 2011, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that the franchise would retire his No. 34 jersey.
At the time, a team spokesperson said there was no timetable for when the ceremony would take place.

NBA.com reports on Thursday that the Lakers are expected to retire O'Neal's jersey during the 2012-2013 season, citing the rushed lockout schedule as the reason why the ceremony didn't take place this year.

O'Neal paired with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to win three titles for the franchise. His time with the Lakers is generally regarded as the high point of his career, making the jersey retirement decision a no-brainer. 

Lakers owner Jerry Buss issued a statement of appreciation for O'Neal last summer.

"Shaq had a long and amazing career," Buss' statement read. "A huge impact both on and off the court. His contributions were significant to the entire NBA, but we specifically appreciate what he did with and what he meant to the Lakers during his eight years with us. We have three championships that we wouldn’t have won without him, and we will forever be grateful for his significant contributions to those teams."

Earlier this week, Bryant passed O'Neal to move into fifth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. O'Neal graciously congratulated Bryant on the achievement, calling him, "the greatest Laker ever."

O'Neal is currently serving as an NBA commentator for TNT.

The Lakers have only retired the jerseys of seven players to date. All seven are members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

The full list: 
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- No. 33
  • Elgin Baylor -- No. 22
  • Wilt Chamberlain -- No. 13 
  • Gail Goodrich -- No. 25
  • Magic Johnson -- No. 32
  • Jerry West -- No. 44
  • James Worthy -- No. 42
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com