From Sekou Smith, NBA.com: We’re still trying to figure out exactly how he does it, but while other members of his generation are fighting Father Time all the way to the finish line, Kobe Bryant continues to act like he’s in his mid-20s as opposed to closer to his mid-30s. The reports from the Lakers’ initial training camp workouts have been glowing where Bryant is concerned. He’s been dominating the action, asserting himself the way you’d expect a young Kobe Bryant would, not the elder statesman entering his 17th season in the league. With Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the fold now alongside Bryant and Pau Gasol, there is a bit more firepower around to help ease some of Bryant’s offensive burden. The Lakers don’t want him to have to push quite as hard. But Bryant doesn’t seem to be interested in easing up at all.
From Mike Trudell, Lakers.com: For the second consecutive day to open training camp, Dwight Howard (back) participated fully, going through everything from 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 contact drills to the offensive and defensive skeleton sets being implemented by the coaching staff. “As much as he’s practicing, to me he’s back,” said Lakers head coach Mike Brown after the team completed the first of two Wednesday practices. “Just waiting for the doctors (and) trainers to clear him. When that happens, he’ll go full tilt. But he looks good out there.”
From Sam Amick, Sports Illustrated: What’s more, Howard — the free-agent-to-be who so desperately wanted to usher in the new Nets era in Brooklyn before being dealt to L.A. — is embracing this fortuitous twist of fate. Like the rest of the basketball universe, sources close to him say they’d be shocked if Howard — who can get a fifth year and an annual 7.5 percent raise with the Lakers as opposed to a four-year deal with 4.5 percent raises with any other team next summer — doesn’t sign a long-term deal with the Lakers in July. The drama, in other words, is over for now. And the dominance, most likely, is about to begin. Howard, in case you forgot while tracking the endless twists and turns of his “Dwightmare,” is the premier defensive player in the game and the sort of athlete that even sparks awe among his industry peers. The idea that he’ll be, to an extent, a role player in the Lakers’ system is where it gets unfair for their foes. This week has been a reminder of that reality, as Lakers players and coaches alike have been showering Howard with the sort of praise that is rarely seen at this level.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that it didn’t take long for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to come up with a Laurel & Hardy-like repartee. However, the subject matter of Nash & Howard’s first comedy act after Wednesday’s Los Angeles Lakers practice didn’t seem like laugh-track material. The NBA announced its new anti-flopping rule on Wednesday, which will penalize players financially after the fact for flopping, based on video review, and, well … we’ll let Nash & Howard take it away from here.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Moments before Metta World Peace charged toward me, he issued a stern warning. “Don’t flop,” the eccentric Lakers forward said. “Stand and be a man.”World Peace had just spoken for eight minutes on a number of issues surrounding the NBA’s announcement that it will fine players for repeated flopping. He bemoaned the league’s policy but also admitted frustration with repeat floppers. He argued referees should simply stop granting charges so liberally.
From Ken Berger, CBS Sports: The Lakers’ collection of All-Stars, former All-Stars, MVPs and champions have to get used to the system and each other. Coach Mike Brown has to get used to coaching talent the likes of which he’s never overseen. Nash used the word “inspiring” to describe the first time the Lakers’ new starting five — Bryant, Nash, Howard, Gasol and Metta World Peace – were on the floor together, even if there was no opponent and no defense. “There’s a lot of positive energy out here,” Nash said. And a lot of work to do.
From Mike Mazzeo, ESPN New York: Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t just think Andrew Bynum is better than Dwight Howard. He’d also take Brook Lopez over D12 … assuming he can remember the Nets center’s name. Here’s what O’Neal had to say when asked his opinion on who is the best big man in the NBA during a roundtable discussion with fellow TNT analysts posted on NBA.com last week: “We as players, we always watch people before us. When I came in it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside. What we have now are centers that are going to the European style, which is a lot of pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard, who’s a pick-and-roll player, some people say he’s the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.” O’Neal is later asked if he meant Brook Lopez, not his twin brother, Robin. “Brook. Same thing. They’re brothers.”