Around The World (Wide Web): A “Team”, Achilles, Contracts, Pau, Offense

Ryan Cole —  September 30, 2013

From Serena Winters, Lakers Nation: Injuries were the main topic of conversation at today’s Lakers practice. Head Coach Mike D’Antoni said both Steve Nash and Pau Gasol practiced in full for the most part yesterday, with the exception of a drill at the end of practice. The Lakers are currently holding two-a-day practices, but Nash and Gasol are the exceptions, practicing only once per day. D’Antoni said Kobe Bryant is in every film session and on the sidelines watching what’s going on. There was a general message, though, that the vibe around the Lakers practice facility was completely different than last year. D’Antoni said Steve Nash noticed it and told him the other day. “It feels good. Last year it was tough, just from the start,” said Nash. It was hard to feel a lot of positive energy. It always seemed like a challenge whereas this year it feels a bit more like a team.” Though Nash said he couldn’t predict how well the Lakers would do this year, there was positive energy all around.

From Brett Pollakoff, Pro Basketball Talk: As the Lakers opened training camp with media day on Saturday, the first questions posed to Kobe Bryant were ones about his recovery from the torn Achilles injury he suffered back in April near the end of the regular season. Bryant seemed to be in good spirits, and is feeling optimistic about the way his rehabilitation has progressed. But he wasn’t willing to set any kind of range in terms of a target date when we might see him back in action. From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles: “I don’t think we really have a particular timetable as far as where I should be right now, but I’m feeling good,” Bryant said. The team’s original timeline for the recovery of Bryant, who had surgery to repair the Achilles in April, was six to nine months. “Everybody was really concerned about this injury, and so was I, but the procedure and the therapy right afterwards and things like that really got me ahead of the curve,” Bryant said. “So, it feels like the hard part’s over.”

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Good news for the Lakers: Almost everybody on their team is in a contract year. Bad news for the Lakers: Almost everybody on their team is in a contract year. Such players have incentive to deliver with an added hunger, according to the long-held sports theory. But if the team starts to disintegrate in the standings, will individuals start jacking up shots to pad their stats? “They’re more professional than that. You’re not going to have any selfish play,” said Coach Mike D’Antoni. What if they start thinking dollars instead of sense? “They probably won’t be playing a whole lot. It kind of takes care of itself,” D’Antoni said. Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Nick Young are the only Lakers with contracts after this season. Young holds a player option for a relatively small $1.2 million in 2014-15, meaning he’ll look for more money if he has a solid season. “Guys are going to go all out,” said Pau Gasol. “That’s the positive part of it. There’s no security for next season. You’re in a position to give it your best, give it your all, earn your next paycheck, next contract.

From Dave McMenamin ESPN LA: Ever since the Lakers tried to trade him to Houston in a three-team deal to acquire Chris Paul back in Dec. 2011, Pau Gasol has often felt like he’s been on borrowed time in Los Angeles. The trade rumors have swirled so much in the last couple of years that the four-time All-Star has taught himself to avoid fretting about the future and rather thrive in the present.  “I’ve learned to live my life on a daily basis and try to have fun in the process,” Gasol said after the first of the Lakers two practices Sunday. That doesn’t mean the media thinks the same way. On just the second day of training camp, Gasol, who is in the final year of his contract with L.A. set to pay him $19.3 million this season, was asked about the possibility of staying on with the Lakers after 2013-14. “If the team is interested, they will approach me and at some point there will be some kind of meeting,” Gasol said. “But I’m not sure when or how. I think it’s going to depend on how I perform during the season. The better I perform, I’m sure the more interested they will be to try to sign me, I guess.” Gasol averaged a career-low 13.7 points last year, his 46.6 field goal percentage was the worst mark of his 12 seasons in the league, and his 8.6 rebounds per game was his lowest average since 2007-08.

From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: Ever since Dwight Howard decided to leave the Lakers for Houston, analyzing the Lakers’ subsequent moves has mostly been a bit of a depressing exercise since the most likely outcome for next season is a bout of mediocrity. Most of the time in the NBA, mediocrity isn’t a productive way to spend your time. You aren’t maximizing your draft position to get the best possible player and if you don’t have existing young players on the roster to develop, you’re heading for a few years of maddening play in which you don’t have the pieces to compete and can’t bottom out to get them. The Lakers have compounded this issue by not having a first rounder in 2015, so their future fortunes are incredibly dependent on their 2014 draft pick and how they conduct their business in free agency in 2014 and 2015.

Ryan Cole

Posts

11 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): A “Team”, Achilles, Contracts, Pau, Offense

  1. There was a general message, though, that the vibe around the Lakers practice facility was completely different than last year. D’Antoni said Steve Nash noticed it and told him the other day. “It feels good. Last year it was tough, just from the start,” said Nash. It was hard to feel a lot of positive energy. It always seemed like a challenge whereas this year it feels a bit more like a team.” Though Nash said he couldn’t predict how well the Lakers would do this year, there was positive energy all around.
    _____
    Now THAT´s great f*****g news!!

  2. Purple, it may not be as much but it sure does give the right start. Right attitudes would be the right start.

  3. Warren,
    Yeah, we gotta start off on the right foot this season, for whatever it´s worth. The fact that they´re Gatsby´s comments makes `em (for me) that much more significant, again, regardless of where we´ll end up come playoff time.
    (& thanks for gettin´ back, man)

  4. For the record: I do not think the improved vibe is a result of Howard leaving. I think that with diminished expectations and the fact that most players added to the roster are here to try and prove a point, it is not surprising that the attitude has improved. Not saying its good or bad… just saying that this is the case.

  5. Since this is a link-centered post, I present you with the latest one from Yahoo:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nba–lakers–mike-d-antoni–jeanie-buss-now–on-same-team–041511769.html

  6. Agree with you, Manny –
    I didn´t read that into Gatsby´s comments at all. He seeems to be all about moving forward, which is precisely what gave me cause to pump my fist and say `yeah!´…
    & thanks for the link!

  7. MannyP: Nice link. I never really thought there was a rift between Jeanie and MD. Someone on the Lakers really needs to educate everyone (Jim, Jeanie, MD, etc) as to how to talk to the media. As you have pointed out previously : ) it is just way too easy to get negative soundbites out of these things:
    “You’re trying to plug holes,” D’Antoni said. “Plug here, plug there. The ceiling was falling in. It was a little bit of a tough spot.” Wow
    “Our chemistry wasn’t good on the team. There was a lot of stuff.” Wow again
    “It was inevitable. It had to happen the other way, but this is a good spot we are in, no doubt.” What is he saying there?

    All: with regard to the attitudes and hungriness: Let’s see what everyone says about this at the 10 game mark. Nobody came out in the pre-season last year and said we had no chemistry and that we were not hungry. I will concede that we have nowhere to go but up in this area. So that is optimistic – right? : )

  8. I agree… this is great news… I think team chemistry accounts for zero to maybe one win in the regular season. We are set… Man Things are looking up! In all seriousness it will be nice to see a Lakers team happy after a loss now.

  9. Maybe not going 0-8 in the preseason will help with morale too…

  10. I wanted to say that I agree with Darius’ Tweet about Jordan Hill. That is basically what I said over the summer (others said so as well).

  11. Remember last year Steve Nash and Pau weren’t happy with their roles in the Princeton Offense; so it isn’t a surprise that they both feel better with the start of camp this year.