From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Silence can speak volumes. When Kobe Bryant refused to talk about the hiring of Mike Brown, it had less to do with the hire than how it went down. First, Kobe was on record as a Brian Shaw backer. Second, he wasn’t even consulted or told about the hire — a consideration top stars all around the league are given (even Minnesota is consulting with Kevin Love). Jim Buss later admitted this was a mistake. All that doesn’t mean Kobe and Brown can’t work together. Talking with ESPN, Kobe said nice things about Brown (hat tip to Lakers Nation). “We’ve talked. We’ve met, we’ve talked several times, met several times. We have been in dialogue there has been an open dialogue. He just seems like the type of coach that buttons everything up, so I think as players we’ll all be happy.”
From Brian Kamentzky, Land O’ Lakers: Short of the proverbial offer he can’t refuse — huge money version, as opposed to something from The Godfather — for Kobe Bryant to suit up for Besiktas in Turkey, not exactly the most esteemed of European clubs, seemed a long shot. Still, talk persisted, fueled in part by Kobe’s connections to Turkish Airlines and reports of a meeting scheduled for Saturday afternoon between Bryant, his representatives, and folks from Besiktas. But as Dan Feldman reports for ESPN LA, Kobe says he “hasn’t spoken to Besiktas in weeks.” Doesn’t sound like that meeting was very productive.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: It is both possible and imperative that the respect Fisher commands in this league, even from those owners – some of whom wanted to give Fisher his latest new contract for more than the Lakers were offering – makes a difference in this game. You know he believes he can do it. It’s why he prepares so thoroughly. It’s why he can be so clutch on the court. If there is a knock on Fisher, it’s that he’s not as great as he thinks he is. Well, if you stand a relatively normal 6-foot-1 in sneakers and come out of Arkansas-Little Rock as the guard not named Kobe Bryant drafted by the Lakers in 1996, you’d better think you’re great if you want anyone else to think you’re any good and last in this league. What Fisher, who turns 37 next week, is doing now off the court will go down as one of the final chapters in a wholly unexpected NBA career. Too many other people live their lives trying to avoid responsibility. They prefer to exist instead of impress … as we too often see, actually, in NBA players not living up rightly to their guaranteed contracts. Fisher must serve those losers now, though he also represents the workers and the winners, too. It’s a tough job. But someone wants to do it. And someone can do it. He’s a role player like most of them. He’s revered as Kobe’s five-time-champion brother by the superstars. We always focus on whether the big shot is made or missed – and in this case it’s all about getting a deal done – but there’s something to be said for being the guy who earns the trust. Fisher has, again, made himself more important than anyone could’ve ever fathomed.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen & Roll: To say Odom had a good season would be the understatement of the year. His career has been defined by the peaks of his undeniable talent and versatility followed by the valleys of frustrating disappearances. When Odom is playing to his full potential one could make a case for him being the best player in the league. But as often as those performances are, there are just as many games in which he plays so passively you hardly know he’s on the court. That finally changed this year. Odom brought the great performances far more often than the disappearing acts and as a result won Sixth Man of the Year. In our analysis he contributed an amazing 11.6 win shares. He had 10.1 win shares in the regular season alone. Only 14 other players in the league finished with more regular-season win shares. To get that elite production from a sixth man and either third or fourth option is the sort of thing that makes other teams envious. The Lakers received a discount when they re-signed Odom after winning the title in 2009. He took an almost 50% pay cut, having made $14.1 million two years ago compared to only $7.5 million last year. In 2010-11 he played to a level that was roughly equivalent to his prior contract if it had been extended with standard annual salary increases. As a result, Odom was the best “bang for the buck” player on the Lakers and, ignoring guys on rookie-scale contracts, probably the best in the league. Dr. Buss could not be happier with the All-Star caliber production he got from Odom, especially at a price that was just under $3 million more than he paid Luke Walton.
From Alex Kennedy, HoopsWorld: Matt Barnes was nervous in the days leading up to his game in the San Francisco Pro-Am League. It was the first time that Barnes had played in an actual game since the Los Angeles Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in May, and he was curious to see how his surgically-repaired right knee would hold up. Last Thursday, Barnes took the floor and didn’t encounter a single problem. He scored 28 points and played the majority of the game, which went into overtime. He didn’t experience any pain on the court or in the days that followed, and he’s looking forward to playing two more games next week. “It felt good,” Barnes told HOOPSWORLD. “That was the first time I had played since we got beat by Dallas. But even then, in the playoffs, my injury was lingering and I didn’t really play much. It was really the first time in a long time that I’ve been able to go out there, be pain free and not limited. There were times where I felt like I didn’t have my legs, but that’s just from not running for so long. There was definitely no pain.”
From the Eye On Basketball Staff, CBS Sports: Oh, Ron. Crazy, crazy, crazy Ron. Just a few years ago, Artest was the difference-maker in the Rockets finally getting out of the first round. He was a hero to the people. He was the big 3-point maker in the last Lakers championship. Then, just as mysteriously, the most likely scenario of Artest trying to fit in with Phil Jackson occurred: things came unglued. Artest registered a career low in nearly every statistical category and lost the confidence of his coach, who moved him further and further from his minutes. Artest enjoyed a career year for his image, winning the Walter J. Kennedy Award for Citizenship and having an art gallery open an exhibit inspired by him. But he never did find his location in the Triangle. His defense, however, didn’t really slip much. He held opponents to 29.8 percent in isolation situations, and opposing small forwards averaged only a 13.8 PER against him. That should be enough to keep him on this list until we can see what Mike Brown can do with him.
From Melissa Rohlin, LA Times Lakers Blog: In between hugging his fans and protecting his head from falling objects, Johnson ebulliently reminisced about his playing days before sitting down for an interview with Times columnist Bill Plaschke on Saturday at Loyola Marymount. Johnson said his favorite all-time memory with the Lakers was when they beat the Celtics in 1985. If he could relive a moment from his playing days, it would be when the Lakers trailed the Celtics by a point with three seconds remaining in Game 4 of the NBA Finals in 1987 and he made a 12-foot sky hook to give the Lakers a 107-106 victory. “It was just a great moment for us, being on the road, playing against the Celtics,” Johnson said. Johnson had a hard time deciding who was the worst at catching his impossible no-look pass. “They all started out bad,” Johnson said with a smile. The former point guard said that if he could build a Lakers team around one player, he would choose Kareem Abdul-Jabbar over Kobe Bryant. “Kareem is still the most dominant Laker that’s ever played,” Johnson said.