Jim Buss on Kobe Bryant playing past 2016: 'It's his decision' (Ball Don't Lie)
28 Aug 2015 at 3:09pm
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has been the most vocal amongst the team?s brain trust about 2015-16 possibly being Kobe Bryant?s last year in the NBA. Bryant?s two-year, $48.5 million contract extension is up at the end of 2016, at the same time that the NBA?s salary cap rises and the team can offer huge heaps of money to free agents to help the Laker franchise turn it over. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Co-owners and business and basketball chief operators Jeannie and Jim Buss haven?t been as direct. In fact, if anything, Jim Buss was as direct as he could be in a recent interview in pointing out that Bryant?s 2016 retirement isn?t a fait accompli. From a talk with Eric Pincus at the Los Angeles Times, when asked if this was Kobe Bryant?s final season : "We're going to approach it like it is, but that doesn't mean it is," Buss said of Bryant. "I'm not going to sit there and say, 'This is it, Kobe, you're done,' because it's not my decision, it's his decision." [?] So is this Bryant's final year with the team? "My arms are like this," Buss said, holding his arms wide open, about Bryant's future. "He just has to know, at that age, and that many miles on you, what is your role? We'll explain the role, and if he still wants to do that and that's how he wants to go out, that's fine with me." The hedging at the end is important. Had Kobe Bryant played enough games to qualify, his usage rate would have ranked second in the NBA last season, only to Oklahoma City?s Russell Westbrook. Westbrook kept his oft-injured teams in games by dominating the ball, while Kobe hamstrung his (admittedly, stinko) supporting cast by firing 20.4 times per game despite shooting just 37.3 percent. He took over five three-pointers, but made just 29 percent of them. He was terrible, and he made an awful team even worse than it should have been. For Buss to say that a return in 2016-17 (and possibly beyond) is ?[Bryant?s] decision? is something new. It?s what goes into the decision that he?ll have to make, however, that has yet to be sussed out. Even if Kobe sees his campaign cut short with injury (he?s sat out the end of his last three seasons and has played just 41 games over the last two years), the Lakers will be better this season. The addition of Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass and Lou Williams alongside a promising rookie in D?Angelo Russell and an just-about rookie in Julius Randle will make the Lakers a competent group in some areas. A healthy return to All-Star form from Kobe won?t put the Lakers in the playoffs, but they won?t look as miserable. That?s fine. The Lakers discovered during the summer of 2014 that no big free agent was keen to ride out Bryant?s last two years, even if it meant taking over the Lakers eventually, so they punted 2015-16 all the way back then. The question, here, is ?his decision? Does it mean, ?we?re going to leave yet another massive contract on the table for you, no worries mate, fire away!? Or does it mean, ?Tim Duncan just agreed to play for $5 million, and he?s way, way, way better than you right now. We know the cap is rising and we?re going to offer you a deal that won?t embarrass you, but it will stand as a pay cut, we?re not going to make a point to make you the game?s highest-paid player, and on top of that you are going to have to temper your role, and learn how to act your age.? The latter decision is the one the Lakers should be presenting Kobe Bryant with. Because Jim Buss is in charge, however, you can?t count on him making the sound basketball move in this instance. Consider, in this interview, his defiant take on the $48.5 million extension for Kobe : "The man has done so much for the Lakers and the fans of the Laker nation, he deserves the money," Buss said. "I don't understand anybody trying to break down what I did for him. Let's break down what he did for us, then say, what is he worth? To me, he's worth that." Fine, he?s meant a lot for the team, your city, and Laker Nation. In offering him that contract (and in Kobe signing that contract, well aware it would cripple the Lakers? cap sheet), you virtually guaranteed that Laker Nation would watch two terrible years of basketball, all while crossing their fingers that they wouldn?t end up giving a lottery pick as a result of 2012?s Steve Nash trade. The pick, which now belongs to Philadelphia (as all picks do), will most certainly go to the 76ers in 2016. Fish like water, plants love sunlight, and Laker fans love Kobe. His return under these terms (?do your thing, Kobester, wasn?t 2002 great?!?!?), for big money that can be explained away by the Laker TV deal and the rising cap, alongside the loss a lottery pick after a lottery season would be the worst case scenario. Best case scenario? Kobe realizes just how much he stunk last season, he actually acts like a facilitator and mentor in 2015-16, the Lakers buck the lottery odds and keep their pick, and Kobe comes back at a majorly reduced rate to take to his farewell tour (which he says he doesn?t want, but come on ?) with the understanding that he?s not allowed to chuck away. What we all, Laker fans or not, wouldn?t give to see that. That sort of plan flies in the face of everything that Kobe Bryant has ever done and said, however. And everything that Jim Buss has ever done and said, even if it is the best way for him to keep the job he says he?ll walk away from (though we know he?s never doing that) if the Lakers aren?t contenders by 2017 or 2018. With that in place, do understand that Jim Buss is putting in the hours : "I could care less if Mitch gets all the credit for it, he's the GM. He's the center point. When it came to blame, you'd think it'd be the same kind of thing but people look at me as kind of a privileged kid." He continued: "Nobody knows how hard I've worked this entire time. ... My personality is to not to take credit for my work. It doesn't bother me because it's self-satisfaction that I know I've done a good job, I know I work hard, and that's all I needed to know." (Buss meant ?could not care less.? We hope.) You?re allowed to roll your eyes at a statement like that, because that?s essentially Jim Buss? way of saying ?I?m very humble.? To point out that it supposedly isn?t your ?personality? to take credit for your work is a backhanded ? hell, ?fronthanded? ? way of asking for credit for one?s work. Work that remains, heretofore, un-cited. It?s true that we don?t know the extent of both Buss? work ethic and his influence, outside of rumors that he was the biggest voice behind drafting and, despite trade rumors, developing Andrew Bynum. That?s not a shot ? don?t forget that, for a while there, Bynum was a major force. He isn?t a self-promoter and he rarely gives interviews. What we do have is the litany of decisions, though. Russell and Randle look like the exact perfect draft picks for their slots, everyone lauded the Nash and Dwight Howard deals when they were made, and it makes sense to punt a few years with Kobe making an obscene amount of money. To a small extent, and we know we?re reaching here, Kobe?s extension can be (maybe, kind of, god we?re stupid) justified. That?s why the franchise, and Jim Buss, can?t be dismissed just yet. The same goes for Kobe Bryant, both this season and ? hopefully ? the one after that. There?s still a chance to end this the right way. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
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Lakers drop Bryant future hint (AFP)
28 Aug 2015 at 12:46pm
Los Angeles Lakers president Jim Buss hinted the club would be ready to hold discussions about possibly extending Kobe Bryant's NBA career when the star's current contract expires at the end of the 2015-2016 season. Buss told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published on Friday that Bryant's history with the Lakers ought to grant him the opportunity to call time on his career on his own terms. "We're going to approach it like it is, but that doesn't mean it is," Buss said of Bryant's possible final season in the NBA.
Shaq and Kobe say they regret their past actions. Some of them, at least. (Ba...
27 Aug 2015 at 3:47pm
There have been little fissures in the ice dividing former Los Angeles Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O?Neal through the years. The two feuded heavily in both times good (those three NBA championships) and bad (embarrassing playoff ousters to Utah, San Antonio, and Detroit that saw the duo just manage a combined 4-20 record), and they?ve had their moments in the days since Kobe forced a trade that sent O?Neal (happily) to Miami. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Well, Shaq has a podcast now; hosted by John Kincade. And in the great Marc Maron tradition of righting past wrongs with his guests, he?s decided to bring Kobe on for a discussion that will clear the air while positing (as Shaq has in the past, while Kobe demurred) that the relationship wasn?t all that bad to begin with. Serena Winters at Lakers Nation transcribed a preview of the episode, which will be released in full on Monday, recently : John Kincade: Is there anything, Shaq, that you would like to take back in the give and take over the years? Shaq: A lot of things, you just played the clip where I said I wanted to be traded. I definitely did not want to leave L.A., but you know that?s how you?ve got to talk when you?re in business, especially when you think you?re in control. Definitely didn?t want to leave L.A. A lot of stuff was said out of the heat of the moment. I guarantee I don?t remember a lot of stuff that they said because I changed my thought process of, you know what we won three out of four, what the hell are you all talking about, this is not really even a story. Kincade: Anything you want to take back Kobe? Kobe Bryant: Here?s the thing though, when you say it at the time you actually mean it and then when you get older you have more perspective and you?re like holy s?, I was an idiot when I was a kid. To me, the most important thing was really just keep your mouth shut. You don?t need to go to the press with stuff. You keep it internal and we have our arguments and our disagreements, but I think having our debates within the press was something I wish would?ve been avoided, but it did kind of create this whirlwind around us as a team with myself and Shaq and the press and the media that just put so much pressure on us as an organization. Eh, I guess. I mean both of these guys really, really screwed up. In May we talked about O?Neal?s assertion that he would have remained a Laker for life had it not been for two ill-timed knee injuries to Karl Malone during the 2003-04 regular and postseason. That?s dubious, to say the least, because the Lakers were hedging on extending the contract of an aging and overweight O?Neal at the time, Shaq should have been iffy on wanting to return to a similarly-aging (even with Kobe) Los Angeles Lakers team, and at the time a trip to Miami (with the young and dynamic Dwyane Wade, and cap room for growth) was both the best basketball and business move for Mr. O?Neal. Were it not for poor timing in the 2005 Eastern Conference finals the Heat would have likely given all the eventual champion Spurs all they could handle in that year?s Finals. Miami split the season series with San Antonio, one of the top defensive teams of all time, and Dwyane Wade didn?t play in the one loss. Miami would go on to win the 2006 title. Secondly, for Bryant to call himself an ?idiot? for the way he got off on the wrong foot with O?Neal during the fin de siècle is fine, but he was 25 and about to turn 26 when he strong-armed Laker management into dealing O?Neal in 2004. Even after the Lakers traded Shaq, Kobe still flirted with the Clippers and Chicago, leaving the Lakers dangling along the way, prior to re-signing with his incumbent team. And it appears that his regrets have more to do with how he dealt with the press, than his teammate. O?Neal and Bryant feuded almost from the start. Kobe never took to the sort of rookie treatment that most young players grin and bear, failing to fit in on several levels on a veteran Laker team that was thinking ?championship? weeks before the newly-signed Bryant was to even turn 18. Not only did Bryant have to watch as Hollywood-obsessed O?Neal got most of the shots in the Laker offense, but he also had to play behind guard Eddie Jones in the Laker lineup. Jones and Bryant battled regularly in pickup games in Philadelphia even before Bryant had left high school, and Kobe respected the All-Star, but it would take 32 months between Kobe?s introduction with the Lakers and his first permanent move into the starting lineup. Bryant respected O?Neal?s impact, but not his game. O?Neal didn?t like Bryant airballing several long jumpers down the stretch of the deciding Game 5 of their initial season together, but Bryant probably didn?t like O?Neal poor defense and six fouls in that contest. The 1997-98 season produced yet another season ending playoff sweep for O?Neal, his fourth in six years as a pro, and the 1999 lockout and season that followed were disastrous. O?Neal (who had already signed a massive seven-year, $120 million contract) was a driving force behind moving stars to capitulate and give into the idea of a ?max contract,? and to his credit he helped end the stalemate. Bryant, meanwhile, was one of the few players to vote against the new collective bargaining agreement, mindful of the fact that his upcoming six-year, $70.9 contract extension could have possibly been doubled under the same amount of years under the old rules. Shaq got his $100 million contract, and then helped prevent Kobe from getting his. The two clashed endlessly in practice, with Kobe itching to take over in a post-Michael Jordan era, while the Lakers fruitlessly looked for veteran help (Derek Harper, Glen Rice, Dennis Rodman) to helped settle things. The winning that came with the Phil Jackson years barely helped relations. Jackson almost immediately sided with O?Neal, who played in the best shape of his career in Jackson?s first season, while Bryant seethed. Though Bryant?s alleged off-court indiscretions never made it to trial in 2003, his comments about doing ?what Shaq does? and paying off women with whom he?d had affairs with did make it on the record. Shaq responded by showing up to camp out of shape (a year after refusing to have surgery on his foot until fall when he was ?on company time,? as if he wasn?t being paid in the summer), and accusing Kobe of attempting to ?buy love? after Bryant bought an expensive ring for his wife Vanessa as the rape allegations came to light. Bryant responded by calling O?Neal a ?fat ass? in an interview with Jim Gray. But, sure ? it was Karl Malone?s knee injury. The two exchanged glares and little else as Kobe stayed with both a rebuilding and then championship Lakers squad in the years that followed. O?Neal bounced from Miami to Phoenix, then Cleveland and Boston before hanging it up in 2011. Upon Kobe?s Finals loss to the Celtics in 2008 Shaq responded with a rather distasteful impromptu concert performance aimed at Mr. Bryant , but when Kobe eclipsed Shaq?s amount of career championships ( something that Bryant reminded everyone of in the minutes following his last championship ), Shaq hopped on Twitter to play cheeky and send this out: @THE_REAL_SHAQ Congratulations Kobe, u deserve it. U played great. Enjoy it man enjoy it. I know what ur sayin "Shaq how my ass taste" ? SHAQ (@SHAQ) June 18, 2010 And now we?re here to take in this strain of revisionist history: "It was more of a office beef. When I look back, I would do it all over again." - @SHAQ on his relationship with @kobebryant ? SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) August 27, 2015 I?m sure Shaq would do it all over again. He?d happily put up with the losing years in order to win those three titles, knowing that Phil Jackson was always a year or two away, and when Phil was in town the ball was always going into O?Neal by rule. He?s not saying he?d handle the losing years in 2002-03 and 2003-04 all over again, or more appropriately. And Bryant, when pressed about his self-described idiocy, only cops to not talking to the press about his frustrations as a 25-year old kid. So, sure ? they?re friendly with each other now. It?s only because they don?t have to share the ball and the same locker room for a hundred games a year. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
Andrew Wiggins knifes past J.J. Barea for big dunk, Canada wins FIBA Americas...
27 Aug 2015 at 7:38am
Someone must've told Andrew Wiggins that he was the subject of Wednesday's entry in our Dunk History series , because the former No. 1 overall draft pick and reigning Rookie of the Year certainly seemed to have attacking the rim on his mind on Wednesday night: Well, hello , Mr. Wiggins. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] Let's take another couple of looks at that: Better-quality gif of the Wiggins dunk from 3 angles. pic.twitter.com/xaDghu4nTA ? Tim Faklis (@timfaklis) August 27, 2015 Hey, Puerto Rico defender Richard Chaney? J.J. Barea does not have your back as a rim protector in that situation. Just a little FYI to help you CYA in the future. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Wiggins, the 20-year-old rising star for the Minnesota Timberwolves, finished with 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting, five rebounds, three assists and a steal in 31 minutes of playing time to lead Canada to a 78-72 win over Puerto Rico that clinched the country's victory in the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup, a tune-up tournament leading into next week's FIBA Americas Championship . The win capped a perfect 4-0 run through the tournament, with the highly anticipated next generation of Canadian hoops ? 2014 No. 1 pick Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 pick and fellow Wolf Anthony Bennett, former first-round picks Cory Joseph of the Toronto Raptors, Nik Stauskas of the Philadelphia 76ers, Andrew Nicholson of the Orlando Magic and Kelly Olynyk of the Boston Celtics, alongside NBA players Robert Sacre of the Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks and Melvin Ejim of the Magic, 2015 second-round pick Olivier Hanlan and sharpshooting Brady Heslip, among others ? showing the depth and breadth of talent that has led many to expect the young Canucks to force their way onto the international stage sooner rather than later. Their next opportunity to do so will come in Mexico at the FIBA Americas tourney. The top two finishers in that competition will qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, joining the United States; who qualified automatically by winning the 2014 FIBA World Cup ; Brazil, guaranteed a spot as the tournament's host nation; and Australia, who punched their tickets by beating New Zealand to win the FIBA Oceania Championship . The remaining seven teams to take part in the 2016 games will come from four other international tournaments: Afrobasket, Eurobasket, the FIBA Asia Championship this summer, and the last-chance-saloon Olympic qualifying tournament next summer. NBA.com's John Schuhmann has a good, quick breakdown of how it all works. The Canadians will face stiff competition as they vie for one of those top two spots. They open preliminary round play on Sept. 1 against Argentina, led by legends Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni and talented young point guard Facundo Campazzo, who spent last season with European champions Real Madrid before recently joining Murcia on loan, and whom American hoops fans might remember from his 7ow b7ow on Carmelo Anthony during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London , and could face stern tests from the likes of Brazil and Mexico. This much seems certain, though: if Wiggins stays committed to using that lightning quick first step, his nose for the basket and his remarkable agility in the air, there won't be very many defenders in that tournament who can stop him from getting to the front of the rim, and there might not be any stopping Canada from earning a spot in Rio's main event, returning to Olympic hoops for the first time since 2000. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
NBA star says he wants to play for Philippine national team (AFP)
27 Aug 2015 at 4:52am
Rising NBA star Jordan Clarkson said Thursday he is eager to play for the Philippines' national basketball team despite citizenship concerns from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). "I want to assure my Filipino brothers and sisters that, if given the chance and everything can be worked out, I sincerely wish to play for Gilas and contribute to the total team effort for flag and country," Clarkson said in a statement released by the Basketball Association of the Philippines (SBP). Clarkson, whose mother hails from the Philippines, is visiting the basketball-crazy Southeast Asian nation and has joined the national team, Gilas Pilipinas, for practice.
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23 Aug 2015 at 10:04am
Ball Don't Five: Top 5 Great Teams That Never Won a Title (Ball Don't Lie)
21 Aug 2015 at 1:02pm
As we continue to work our way through the endless summer between the Finals and Opening Night, we'll pause each Friday to briefly consider and count down some NBA-related topic of note. We like starting lineups and round numbers, so we'll run through a handful of items each week. With a nod to our friends at Dr. Saturday , welcome to Ball Don't Five . This week's installment: The Top Five Great Teams That Never Won a Title [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] 5. Jerry West?s Los Angeles Lakers This is a cop-out, and not an entirely accurate description to boot. Jerry West?s Los Angeles Lakers won it all in 1972 after steamrolling the league in a regular season that saw the squad win a then-NBA record 69 games, which was nice. For 11 years prior, however, West?s Laker clubs routinely bowed out in the playoffs to either superior St. Louis, San Francisco or Milwaukee clubs, or in the Finals at the feet of the Boston Celtics. That?s 11-straight runs featuring West and Elgin Baylor and eventually Wilt Chamberlain at their peaks, with no ring to show for it until Bill Sharman put the team over the top in 1972.
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