From Phillip Barnett, Lakers Nation: During the Lakers 2002 championship campaign, they had to go through the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Finals before they were able to finish off their three-peat with a sweep over the New Jersey Nets. That WCF against the Kings would prove to be the Lakers toughest test as the Kings would take the Lakers to an epic seven game series that saw Robert Horry’s most famous shot and Shaquille O’Neal calling the team the “Queens.” Lots has changed since then, the Lakers would go on to win two more titles while the Kings have been a lottery team for seven of the 11 years. The vitriol between the two teams has cooled down tremendously since the series, and even the the players in the series don’t seem to hate the other team quite as much as they did over a decade ago. This hasn’t been anymore evident than in the recent news that O’Neal has become a minority owner of the team,according to USA Today’s Sam Amick.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Mike D’Antoni leaned heavily on Steve Nash last season, when he could. A broken leg and an assortment of other injuries kept Nash down to 50 games last season, but when he did play he averaged 32.5 minutes a game. Up from the season before. With the Lakers moving this season toward a more pure version of what coach Mike D’Antoni wants to run (after having to modify it heavily due to Dwight Howard and the rest of an ill-fitting roster last season) we could see more Nash. But with Nash at age 39, turning 40 during the season, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti suggested maybe a reduction in minutes, as he told Mark Medina of the Daily News.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Forget all that stuff about Kobe Bryant returning from an Achilles’ tendon injury this season. It’ll happen at some point. The real question involves next season. He might not return at all to the Lakers. Bryant is entering the last nine months of his contract, a season worth $30.45 million before he can become a free agent in July. He has known only one team in his 17-year career and often says he’ll be a Laker for life, but will that be the case? The Lakers haven’t opened contract negotiations with Bryant, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, taking a wait-and-see approach as he recovers from his injury. Bryant, 35, has done incredible things for the franchise, pushing it to five championships and two other NBA Finals appearances in his 17 seasons. His jersey is continually among the league’s top sellers, his first name easily recognizable even with non-sports fans.
From ESPN News Services: Jeanie Buss, the chief of the Los Angeles Lakers’ business operations and fiancee of Hall of Famer Phil Jackson, wrote in an upcoming update to her “Laker Girl” memoir that she felt the hiring of Mike D’Antoni as head coach last year instead of Jackson was “a betrayal.” Buss, in an excerpt published Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, wrote she felt she “got played,” referring to the decision ultimately made by her brother Jim, which she has said took her and Jackson by surprise and had been an unsettling experience. “Why did they have to do that?” Jeanie Buss wrote in the November edition of the book first published in 2010. “Why did Jim pull Phil back into the mix if he wasn’t sincere about it? …”Phil wasn’t looking for the job, and then he wasted 36 hours of his life preparing for it when they were never in a million years going to hire him anyway.”How do you do that to your sister? How do you do that to Phil Jackson?”