Archives For Kobe

The dragging offseason continues, yet the news cycle rolls on…

Earlier this month the Lakers signed former Texas forward and Summer League standout Jonathan Holmes. To this date, not much has been heard about the Holmes-Lakers pairing since the signing, however, Mark Stenberg of Study Breaks Magazine recently caught up with the San Antonio native for a very insightful interview, here’s some of what stood out:

Can you walk me through everything that’s happened from Draft Day till now?

Holmes: Draft Day was a tough. Heading into it, we thought we had a pretty good chance of going late first round/beginning of the second round, but some unexpected trades happened and I ended up going undrafted.

After that, the next thing to do was try and get ready for summer league. I was in San Antonio on Draft Day, and two days later my agent called and said the Celtics had a good opportunity for me to play. That’s really the biggest thing you need as an undrafted guy—a chance to play—so we jumped on that right away.

I flew to Boston a couple of days later and had a week of training camp to prepare for Summer League. Then we flew out to Utah, played two games, and then flew to Las Vegas to play in that Summer League

(Boston lost in the quarterfinals to the Becky Hammon-coached Spurs, the team that ended up winning the tournament).

After that, we were just waiting for some deals. Then we got some, we chose Los Angeles, and now I’m here hanging out, waiting for training camp.


What do your days look like now?

Holmes: I wake up 8:30 and work out with one of the coaches, then go to the weight room and get a little work out there. Right now, there’s a lot of open-gyms going on at the Clippers’ facility, so some of the guys on the team and I might go over there and play with some of the guys there. Then I’ll usually come back here, eat lunch, rest, take a little nap and then head back to the facility. I’m really just trying to put some shots up. Afterword, I’ll come back here and kick it pretty low key. Right now everything’s still pretty unofficial.

How the vibe in LA? Have you played with Kobe yet?

Holmes: No, I haven’t seen him yet. It’s actually really cool though, because there are a lot of young guys right now. I mean there are definitely veterans here, like Roy Hibbert, Ryan Kelly, Brandon Bass, and Nick Young, but for the most part, most of the guys on the team are young. It makes it different than if you were coming into a team that was nothing but veterans, cause most of these guys are going through what I’m going through.


Do you have a basketball role model?

Holmes: I definitely model my game after Draymond Green, but there are guys from San Antonio who paved my way to get [to professional basketball]. When people think about Texas they think about football, but I watched guys like André Roberson and Jordan Clarkson (who also plays for the Lakers) when I was growing up. We played for the same AAU programs, and so just seeing them make it coming from San Antonio pushed me and motivated me to live out my own dreams.


The Lakers’ second UDFA signing this offseason was ex-Florida guard Michael Fraizer, and while most have little expectation that he’ll amount to anything more than a mere camp body, Jackson Sanders of Hoops Habit recently looked into just where Fraizer could find his role on a Lakers roster:

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The Lakers made another under-the-radar personnel move over the weekend with the signing of undrafted free agent Michael Fraizer. This is the team’s second UDFA signing of the offseason and just as we did with the signing of Jonathan Holmes, today’s links provide a month-old scouting report done by Kevin O’Connor of SB Nation, in which Fraizer is referred to as a potential “sleeper”:

Frazier has the talent to carve out a career in the league. All he needs is the right situation to give him an opportunity to get to that level.

Wesley Matthews, Bruce Bowen and Ben Wallace suffered the same disappointment of being undrafted, but went on to have productive careers. Frazier’s former teammate Scottie Wilbekin just signed a four-year contract with the 76ers after developing one year overseas and returning an improved player.

This is why Frazier is a prime candidate to be next in line.

Fraizer’s calling card at the next level is assumed to be his proficiency from three-point range. While O’Connor doesn’t discount the fact that Fraizer sticking with a team is contingent upon his ability to drain threes, he also goes on to detail Fraizer’s potential to be a multi-faceted player with a unique skillset that suggests he is more than a “specialist”:


Before the draft, Frazier worked out at Elev8 Sports Institute with trainer Cody Toppert to improve this area of his game. Toppert recently published an overview of the pick-and-roll. He preaches three keys: pace, poise and purpose.

“Cody Toppert and I watched a lot of film, then went straight to the court to try to replicate those same kinds of things,” Frazier said. “In today’s game, Chris Paul is the best player in the pick-and-roll, so I watch a lot of him. He’s the master of it.”


One of the players Fraizer will most directly compete against this summer is soon-to-be sophomore, Jabari Brown. This roster battle will certainly draw more attention as summer exhibition nears, yet there is still quite a while until preseason kicks off (45 days to be exact). Therefore, one of the ways players like Brown get in their on-court reps during the offseason is by participating in the various Summer basketball showcases throughout the country.

Josh Martin of Bleacher Report recently profiled the growth of these Summer Pro League Exhibitions (most notably the Drew League and Seattle Pro-Am), and the piece included a brief, yet telling, appearance from Brown:

Nowadays, audiences in the Bay Area often find themselves as awe-struck by the show-stopping shooting skills of a bona fide superstar like Stephen Curry as they are by the spectacular scoring exploits of a relative NBA unknown like Los Angeles Lakers sophomore-to-be Jabari Brown.

“It’s a big misconception [about the talent level in the NBA],” Brown, an Oakland native, told Bleacher Report. “A lot of people you’ll just hear like, ‘Oh, so-and-so’s not getting it done.’ I’ll be like, ‘Man, a lot of these people can ball. Just because their 2K rating isn’t 85 or something, the guys that you sleep on, they’re the guys that’ll give you 25 on that night’ and you’ll be like, ‘What happened?’ You know what I’m saying? Everybody in this league is capable.”

It’s a reminder that just about every player who fills one of the NBA’s 450 roster spots each year, even the ones who rarely suit up, were the best on their high school squads and were among the finest prospects at the collegiate level—assuming they didn’t skip that step entirely.

Brown fits that description to a T…

As someone who is a frequent visitor of So-Cal’s own Drew League, I can attest that watching NBA players perform on a lesser stage — in front of spirited communities, traditionally at a high school gym or local court — externalizes a more humanistic nature to the oft-glorified athletes. The atmosphere of such events can be indescribable, however Martin does a wonderful job capturing the scene in what is a very worthwhile read.

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The best American born players gathered in the desert as Team USA held it’s annual summer mini-camp this week in Las Vegas. From LeBron James to Kevin Durant to Steph Curry, the game’s elite showed out to practice and throw their names in the hat as potential participants in next summer’s Olympics being held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

One player who was not present, but still getting ink, was Kobe Bryant. Though Kobe has previously gone on record saying the 2012 games in London would be his last, Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo left the door open for Kobe to compete in 2016. This led to a flurry of reports openly wondering if Kobe could, in fact, find his way onto the team.

Well, those reports will only intensify now that Colangelo has gone even further with comments detailing conversations with the Lakers’ star. From ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

“I was quoted on Kobe,” Colangelo said after USA Basketball’s intrasquad scrimmage at the Thomas & Mack Center. “In response to a question about him, I said it would be a great story if he did [play in Rio].

“And so, he also mentioned to me in a private conversation that if he had his druthers, he would love to ride off into the sunset playing one more time and winning the gold medal. And that would be the end. But he was very quick to say, ‘But, I don’t want a spot. I need to earn the spot. I need to be capable of playing at that level to be considered.’ And I said, ‘You got that. That’s always there for you, Kobe.'”

If Kobe cannot go out on a winning Lakers’ team, the next best thing would be for him to represent his country one last time, playing alongside the game’s elite players, and earning a gold medal in the Olympics. Kobe already has two golds (from 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London), but joining his teammates on that medal stand one more time as the national anthem played would still be an amazing accomplishment.

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Yesterday, the Lakers, along with 31 other teams, were granted a mapped-out schedule of their next 82 games. Aside from predicting win/loss totals and counting up the number of national TV appearances, the biggest takeaway for fans is that these could very well be the final 82 games of Kobe Bryant’s storied career. In what will be the first of many thinkpieces regarding Kobe’s legacy this season, Drew Garrison of Silver Screen and Roll focused on the significance of the fact that Kobe’s potential “finish line” has officially been marked:

Maybe it’s wrong to already start thinking about Kobe’s book as having a final page earmarked to end his legacy. It’s hard not to, though, considering the expiration date on his contract is the only thing concrete in his future. He’ll ultimately make a decision when he’s ready, but for now, it’s more than fair to start bracing for impact. This ship might be preparing to sail through the murky 82-game journey one last time.

And there will be plenty of full-circle talk the whole way through it. The Lakers are preparing to embrace a movement led by a new hyper-talented guard who must find his way to becoming the kind of floor general Los Angeles has come to expect. Kobe will be moving toward ending his career as one of the few athletes in sports history to spend and enjoy such an illustrious career with a single franchise. Coincidentally, his first NBA minutes during his rookie season came against the Minnesota Timberwolves, against whom the Lakers will open the ’15-16 season, and ended in the playoffs against the Jazz, against whom the Lakers will end the regular season.


The season will have ups, downs and unexpected turns along the way, but it all leads to what could be a final ride with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. A living legend may run his final steps through a purple and gold finish line on April 13th.



Aside from the intrigue of the Russell-Towns and Kobe-Garnett matchup that will take place in the opener (which Darius Soriano touched on here), the Lakers-Wolves game presents two teams dealing with positional battles at their guard spots. The Wolves have a couple of seasoned vets (Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin) who could potentially lose minutes to a young Zach Lavine, while the Lakers will likely look to find who will take control of the backcourt will be between Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell.

In a piece analyzing a few of the more notable positional battles throughout the league, Ben Leibowitz of Sports Illustrated took a look at how the Lakers young backcourt could play out during the season:

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The NBA schedule was released on Wednesday and now every team knows the route they will travel on their marathon campaign. 82 games of ups and downs, wins and losses, and countless storylines will captivate us fans and players alike. We’ve already started this discussion with some of the games we are most/least looking forward to as well as some other general observations.

But, frankly, there is even more on our minds. With that, here are 10 more thoughts on the Lakers’ 2015-16 schedule…

1. I love that the Lakers open with the Timberwolves. It is by no means a glamorous match up pitting traditional rivals against each other, but there are a lot of match ups and intriguing stories worth discussing. On one end of the spectrum you have the #1 and #2 overall picks in Karl Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell facing off in their first regular season games. And, on the other end, you have Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant facing off on the opening night of their 21st and 20th seasons respectively. The rooks are the most recent high profile one-and-done prospects to grace the league while the veterans are the two players who ushered in the prep-to-pros era which graced us with some of the best players of a generation. Add in last year’s rookie of the year in Andrew Wiggins and the return of Julius Randle and there is no shortage of reasons why I’ll be excited about this game.

2. I love that the Lakers’ annual Grammy Road Trip is only going to be four games, but with it being so short they have to make up some of those road games somewhere. Enter a brutal December where only four of the team’s 17 games will be at Staples Center. Welp.

3. A few dates to circle on the calendar: February 19th, February 21st, March 10th, and April 3rd. In order, those may be the last times Kobe suits up in a game against Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, LeBron James, and the Boston Celtics. There are other match ups worth mentioning, but I’d say those four opponents will carry extra weight.

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No Lakers-centric links post this week would be complete without a reference to the team’s most widely-covered news of the week surrounding it’s most celebrated player. So, let’s get that out of the way, first.

In an interview which has been well-documented, Kobe Bryant spoke with Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports and discussed a variety of topics including his eventual retirement (more on that in a minute) and his outlook on the upcoming season:

Q: What do you think about the state of the Lakers right now?

Kobe: “They have really set themselves up for a promising future going on years. I think they drafted very well. The free agents that we picked are extremely solid, [Roy] Hibbert, [Brandon] Bass, Lou [Williams]. We have a very good mix of young and veteran leadership. The challenge is going to be blending the two and cutting down the learning curve.

“How quickly can we get going? How quickly can we bring up [rookie D’Angelo] Russell, [Julius] Randle. [Jordan] Clarkson got valuable experience last year in playing that will benefit us tremendously. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to running with these young guns.”

Q: Can this Lakers team make the playoffs?

Kobe: “Of course it can. Absolutely. We have talented players in their respective positions. We have some really young players. How exactly will the pieces of the puzzle fit? We really don’t know. We are going to [training] camp trying to piece this together just like every other team does. We have to figure out what our strengths are, figure out what our weaknesses are. And every time we step on the court we are going to try to hide our weaknesses and step up to our strengths.”

It is also worth reading a related piece by our own Darius Soriano where he dissects some of Bean’s most noteworthy comments from the interview.


Perhaps my subconscious is intentionally burying the “lead” here, but Kobe’s most highly-noted comments from the above interview revolved around his inevitable departure from basketball. Until Kobe officially hangs ’em up, there will continue to be questions in regards to his official farewell and quotes like “I don’t know if I’m going to retire or not.” will lead to attention-grabbing headlines such as, “Kobe and Mitch aren’t on the same page!”. Regardless of when his swan song will officially be composed, I am of the mindset that enjoying Kobe’s every moment is crucial at a time where we are more aware than ever that any step onto the court could be his last.

No, his waning moments will not always be pretty, but according to Silver Screen and Roll’s Harrison Faigen, to make the closing of his career a lot more effective and a bit more eye-pleasing, Kobe should take note of an old adage; “Like Mike”:

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Kobe Bryant is currently in China on what has become his yearly summer trek, engaging with fans, telling his story, and further embedding himself as the most popular basketballer in Asia. Seriously, when you watch clips of him there or see photos, he’s like a one-man Coachella. The fans there love him and he loves them back.

But while Kobe is planting seeds for future endeavors in China, his present in the US and with the Lakers remains front and center. There are many questions about the team he will return to, his ability to perform on it, and how much time remains in his career to still do it. Marc Spears of Yahoo! caught up with Kobe and got a lot of insight on these topics and more. The entire interview is well worth your time so give the full piece a read, but for our purposes, let’s unpack some of the more pressing questions:

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There is a real possibility the Lakers will lose two franchise icons at the end of this upcoming season. The first, as we told you earlier, is Gary Vitti, who has announced he will retire at the end of the 2015-16 season. The second, of course, is Kobe Bryant. Kobe has not outright said he will not continue his career when his current contract expires, but a reading of the tea leaves leads me to believe his 20th campaign will be his final one.

It would be fitting if Kobe and Vitti rode out into the sunset together since they share a bond that has been molded for 19 years and counting. One of my favorite pictures of Kobe is him walking with Vitti on the tarmac on the way to the team plane on a road trip from this past season:

kobe vitti

(Photo credit: Ty Nowell,

In what may be their final season together, Vitti will surely be keeping a close tab on Kobe and how he progresses through the season. And, from the sound of it, he’ll be doing it while Kobe plays a different position than his customary shooting guard. From Mike Bresnahan in the LA Times:

Vitti is often an emissary between players and management. He recently met up with Bryant, with whom he shares a longtime bond.

“He was asking about our young kids, and I said, ‘You cannot believe how quick and athletic Jordan Clarkson is. He looks fantastic,'” Vitti said. “I said I personally thought D’Angelo Russell is going to be a star. He makes hard things look easy when he has the ball in his hands.

“Then Kobe said to me, ‘Well, then who’s going to play [small forward]?’ I looked at him and I said, ‘You.’ And with absolute, 100% confidence, he said, ‘I can do that.'”

Can Bryant, soon to turn 37, really do it? His last three seasons were cut short by injury and he became a part-time player last season, sitting out eight of his last 16 games for “rest” before sustaining a torn rotator cuff in January. He is under contract for one more season at $25 million.

“When Nash retired, that didn’t mean he couldn’t play in an NBA game. The problem was how much time did he need to get ready for the next game.” Vitti said. “He had lots of issues that prevented him from playing an NBA schedule.

“That’s going to be the big question with Kobe, and we’re just going to have to feel it out. It’s been a while since he’s played. We just need to see.”

After looking at the depth chart, we’d discussed the potential of Kobe playing some small forward this season. We’d even heard hints of this from Mitch Kupchak and Byron Scott. But it seems we’re getting it right from the horse’s mouth — or at least relayed by Vitti from the horse.

I don’t envision there being too much of a shift in terms of style of play from Kobe as a SF versus a SG. In the offense the team runs, it’s probably a bit better for Kobe to be the SF since it positions him on the wing to start possessions rather than at the top of the floor in the two-guard front many of the Lakers’ Princeton-based sets initiate from. In these sets, Kobe will likely get screened for by Russell and run a fair amount of two-man game and Triangle-like actions on the strong side with Russell and either Hibbert or Randle.

Playing in this spot will likely allow Kobe to post up more freely without having to skew the offense too much by bringing up a SF into a ball handling position (remember all those P&R’s you saw Wes Johnson run as a ball handler?) at the extended wing or at the top of the floor. Kobe, of course, will be much more comfortable handling those actions than a guy like Johnson, but his work below the foul line or in the extended post will likely continue to be his bread and butter — at least in the half court.

Where the team might have some issues with Kobe at SF is defensively, but, honestly, that’s not a new issue when it comes to Kobe. He may have to spend time guarding some of players he likely would have passed off to the other wing, since it is hard to imagine Clarkson guarding the LeBron, Durant, and Carmelo’s of the world. But, considering Kobe will likely be doing much less heavy lifting offensively and has always taken pride in guarding the top names, maybe he’ll give a bit more effort on that side of the ball this season.

Of course, we’ll just have to see how it plays out. My biggest hope for Kobe has little to do with how he plays at any given position, but him simply playing period.