Archives For Laker News

If you ask most basketball fans the question above, the answer will probably be skeptical at best and sarcastic laughter at worst. Kobe may have made a career out of turning doubters (either real or perceived) into believers, but this time it is different. A torn achilles and a broken bone in the knee while attempting to come back from said achilles injury will do that.

One report, though, is making it seem like those doubts may be miscast. From Lyle Spencer of Sports on Earth:

On the heels of an invisible 2013-14 campaign that clearly unhinged the Lakers, Kobe Bryant is back to being Kobe Bryant, from Kupchak’s observation point. And that is the best news in months for the faithful, whose trust in the purple and gold is being severely tested.

“My window overlooks the court, and he comes in to work out from time to time,” Kupchak said. “You would not know he’s in his mid-30s. You wouldn’t know he hurt his knee and had a torn Achilles. There’s no limp. He’s got a hop in his step. He’s working hard.”

And more from Kupchak:

“I’m not worried,” Kupchak said. “Kobe looks great. He’s had two rough years. The Achilles was a freak thing, and the knee — I’m not sure anybody can predict that kind of thing.

“He’s actually been healthy since May. He’s ready, motivated. And he’s engaged.”

First off, let me get the obligatory “what is he supposed to say?” comment out of the way.

Kupchak is the General Manager and, while he’s often more blunt and honest than others around the league who hold his title, it’s not in his best interest to say anything besides what he did. Not to mention the cynic in me remembers when Dwight Howard was coming back from back surgery and all you heard from Lakers’ practices was that Dwight was looking very good and surprising people with his progress. Then, when the season started, he was clearly still hampered and not performing anywhere near the level he’d shown in previous seasons.

The flip-side, of course, is that Mitch is just being his normal, straight shooting self. I have seen enough press conferences and interviews with the man to know that he can speak in riddles with the best of them, giving non-answer-answers while ducking and dodging questions like an agent in the Matrix. So, while acknowledging above that there’s no reason for Mitch to say something negative about Kobe’s progress, there’s also no need for him to be so positive either. If he wanted to, he could have just provided some bland, understated response and gone about his business.

That’s not what happened, however. And while I do not want to spend too much time dissecting and parsing his words, I do find it interesting that he spoke in the terms he did when he could have provided a much more vague update and gotten away with it easily.

Of course, what is said in a random interview given by the GM in August will matter much less than what happens on the court, from the player, come late October — or, better yet, in the middle of a 4 games in 6 nights stretch come February. Kobe, for whatever flaws fans and analysts want to point out, has made a career out of giving great effort most every night and turning those stretches of the season where other players start to coast into his personal proving ground of greatness.

How he manages those stretches this season and whether he is up to the challenge of being “Kobe” night-in and night-out, is what it will all come down to. And, when viewed through that prism, that skepticism mentioned at the top of this post will live on. With it being very real this time. It sure would be nice, though, if Kobe had one more “prove them wrong” run in him. Time will tell.

On Friday the reports were that the Lakers had offered Byron Scott the head coaching job and that negotiations had ensued. On Saturday, reports are that a deal has been struck to name the former Lakers’ guard as their new head coach:

So, after nearly 3 months and as many interviews, the Lakers have found their man.

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The move that we looked at heading into the weekend became official on Monday when Ryan Kelly re-signed with the Lakers, signing his name to a two-year contract to return to the Lakers. From Eric Pincus of the LA Times:

Kelly will receive $1.65 million for the coming season and $1.72 million for 2015-16. Both years are fully guaranteed for a total of $3.37 million. The Lakers appear to have used part of their $2.7 million room exception on Kelly, leaving $1.08 million to spend on free agency.

The 48th overall pick from last season’s draft returns to a crowded front court where he will compete for minutes at power forward with rookie Julius Randle and amnesty waiver pick-up Carlos Boozer. Kelly may also see some minutes at small forward, though I still believe that his best position is at the big forward spot where his shooting and offensive skill set are better utilized against players who aren’t as used to defending players who play his style of game.

Kelly’s role, however, is a topic for another day. We still don’t even know who will be coaching the team, so exploring how he fits into the offense and how he can be best utilized within the scheme are a ways off. Instead, then, let’s shift our focus to this season’s second round pick, Jordan Clarkson.

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Earlier in the day Friday the Lakers waived Kendall Marshall, simultaneously creating some cap space but also creating an extra roster spot to fill. The team wasted little time in filling Marshall’s vacated spot, and more, inking some familiar faces to contracts:

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The Lakers are not done making moves, apparently. In an effort to open up a sliver of cap space (more on this in a minute), the team has moved on from the Kendall Marshall era (at least in the short term):

Marshall’s salary for this upcoming season — $915,243 — was not guaranteed, so the Lakers take no hit for waiving Marshall and open up that amount of cap space. This may not seem important, but, in reality, it was a needed move if the team wants to keep Ryan Kelly while also signing Nick Young to his reported deal. 

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