From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: With Phil Jackson back in the fold and Steve Blake having soaked up most of the Lakers’ mid-level exception, attention now turns to filling out the low-cost end of the roster. Over at Yahoo!, Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Lakers are asking Derek Fisher to accept a one-year deal for $2.5 million, which leaves ample space between the team’s bid and Fish’s ask of $10 million over two years. Once the Fish situation is resolved, Woj reports, the Lakers will attempt to bring Raja Bell on board with what’s left of their MLE money. Bell made $5.25 million last year but played in only six games for Charlotte and Golden State thanks to a season-ending wrist surgery. He’s also 34 years old and was eventually waived by Golden State in March. He can probably still shoot, though – he’s made at least 40% of his threes six years running – and he was second team NBA All Defense as recently as 2008, so as a possible addition to the bench, this isn’t a terrible idea. Raja did state last week that signing with the Miami Heat would be his first choice.
From Carl Franzen, AOL News: The story of Phil Jackson is already the stuff of legends, but after leading the Los Angeles Lakers to yet another championship victory this year, the so-called “Zen Master” isn’t ready to close the book on his sports career just yet. Today, 65-year-old Jackson — whose health has reportedly been ailing in recent years — reversed course on earlier statements indicating he would retire and announced that he will, in fact, be returning to coach the Lakers for a record-setting 11th tenured season.
From Russ Bengtson, SLAM Online: Kobe Bryant extends his right hand in greeting, , you reach out your own, and before you get there, you hesitate. Whoa. Hold on. Just look at that thing for a second. The fractured right ring finger swollen, wrapped from tip to palm in black tape, the pinkie stiffly extended. In medical terms, it’s totally f***’d up. You take it gently and think, “He hit a game-winning shot less than 24 hours ago with this?” True story. Just ask the Milwaukee Bucks, who withstood a misfired Kobe turnaround at the end of regulation only to go down on the same exact shot at the end of overtime. “I have to remind myself sometimes, like throughout the game, shots might go short because I got the old grip that I’m used to shootin’ with,” he says nonchalantly. “So, a couple times muscle memory will go back to the old way.”
From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: As the Lakers have reflected on their 2010 NBA championship, two themes have emerged. They especially appreciated this title because they earned it by beating their archrival, the Boston Celtics, and because it capped a season full of challenges stemming from injuries, inconsistent performances and fatigue. Yet, not all players have experienced the joy of winning in the same way. Their reactions can be different, and quite telling. Not everyone celebrated like Ron Artest, for instance, who proclaimed giddiness over a Wheaties championship box to reporters and shared his random, fun-filled thoughts in tweets.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is taking a break from basketball this summer. In an interview with AOL Fanhouse on Monday, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Bryant, as well as every other player on the 2008 Olympic team except for Deron Williams and Chris Paul, will not compete in the FIBA World Championships in Turkey. “It’s a combination of three things: free agency, injuries and having gone hard for a long time,” Colangelo said. “And I’m OK with that.”
From William C. Rhoden, The New York Times: The 19-hour flight to New York from Johannesburg last week provided ample time for reflection. For thoughts about a month spent in South Africa, the World Cup and all its stellar performances. With so much to think about, it was easy to lose track of the burning issues of the sports world in the United States. Until the plane touched down. Not even five minutes after I got off the plane at Kennedy Airport, it was hard to miss the television monitors that were telling the story of the hour: LeBron James, the king without a championship throne. King James was home in Cleveland, in the middle of interviewing no fewer than six N.B.A. teams, all vying — begging — for him to play for them.
An interview with Rafael Nadal, Tennis-X.com: Q. Pau Gasol wanted me to say hola to you. Congratulations. Can you compare this to what he did, back?to?back Lakers championships and your own as well, two straight here at Wimbledon for you? RAFAEL NADAL: Thanks a lot. Everything is difficult, and very difficult compare, two different sports, no? But I am in contact with him all the time. For sure to have unbelievable sportsman like Pau inside the court, inside the court and outside the court is very, very good for our country.