There doesn’t seem to have been any breaking news from the Los Angeles Lakers front this weekend. They’re presumably biding their time in the Dwight Howard grind. Either that or Mitch Kupchak will pull one of his patented stealth ninja moves when we’re least expecting it. There’s been other things to occupy sports fans’ attention – Team USA set their roster, and Roger Federer claimed yet another Wimbleton title. Here’s a few bits of Sunday reading, in excerpt form:
Marc J. Spears at Yahoo writes about Kobe’s reaction to the Steve Nash trade, and how rivalries give way to time:
Kobe Bryant has a warning for the rest of the NBA now that Steve Nash is joining him in the Los Angeles Lakers’ backcourt. “We’re going to have to be dealt with,” Bryant said. Bryant spoke after Team USA held its first practice of its Olympic training camp. He and the rest of the players didn’t spend much time answering questions about who will make the final 12-man roster for London. Instead, the talk was dominated by Nash’s move to Los Angeles and the rest of the NBA’s free-agency frenzy.
In the first week of free agency, Deron Williams committed to stay with the Brooklyn Nets instead of choosing his hometown Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd (New York Knicks) and Jason Terry (Boston Celtics) opted to leave Dallas and Ray Allen decided to leave the Celtics to join LeBron James and the champion Heat. The biggest surprise has been Nash’s decision to join the Lakers. “It’s not really weird,” Bryant said. “We’ve obviously had our moments, had our battles. But at the core of it are two guys that came into the league at the same year (1996). Myself, him, Ray Allen, (Kevin) Garnett, we’re pretty much the last ones left. There is a kind of bond that comes along with that that’s kind of bigger than some of the rivalries we’ve had.
Earl Bloom at the OC Register examines the potential pitfall to signing Dwight Howard:
Dwight Howard is well into his second year of holding at least two NBA franchises, and sometimes more, hostage to his whims. The Orlando Magic’s All-Star center, one of the NBA’s best rebounders and shot-blockers, has one intended destination: the Brooklyn, formerly New Jersey, Nets. That’s the only team he says he will sign a long-term deal with after his contract expires next season. It’s much more likely when the Magic finally moves Howard, after bending over backwards for him for a year-plus, it will send him to the Lakers or the Houston Rockets.
Be careful what you wish for, Lakers fans. James left Cleveland after seven years because he wanted to win a title. Howard wants to leave a winner to go to a loser, I guess mainly because Jay-Z is a part-owner of the Nets, and can help make Howard a bigger star. Maybe Howard really is Superman, the character he styled himself as in an All-Star dunk contest (which irritated Shaquille O’Neal to no end). Bullets seem to bounce off Howard. If Howard as a one-year rental for the Lakers or the Rockets, he’s going to be an expensive one.
Ben Bolch for the L.A. Times, on the heartache and frustration that Steve Nash leaves behind:
Steve Nash can be tough on coaches. Scheming to stop his relentless pick-and-roll game often leaves even the best tacticians futilely scribbling on whiteboards. “The agony he caused before games, during games, and after games, trying to figure out how were going to do it better…” former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said, his voice trailing off. “He’s taken years off coaches’ lives.” The newest Laker has also left heartache in his wake. One of the most difficult losses that Don Nelson endured in a 34-year, Hall of Fame coaching career involved Nash leaving the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2004 to sign as a free agent with the Phoenix Suns. “It deflated my desires there because he was my favorite player,” Nelson recalled in a phone interview from his home in Maui. “To lose him killed me. I tried my best to deal with it. It;s not that I stopped trying or anything. But there was something cut out of my heart losing Nash.”
As a new week rolls into view, there will continue to be speculation about the next big thing, if in fact there is, or needs to be, a next big thing. Bringing back Hill and Ebanks, and tweaking the roster with affordable pieces like Grant Hill and Jordie Meeks, would help bolster a roster whose dynamic has shifted dramatically. If you’re still looking for something to do on a lazy afternoon, there’s always hiking in the canyon with Nash and Sager.
– Dave Murphy