Morning shootaround — Dec. 19


VIDEO: Highlights from games played Dec. 18

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Kobe not recruiting KD to L.A. just yet | Report: Trade talks for Stephenson fizzle | Malone reflects on Kings days

No. 1: Kobe not recruiting Durant to Lakers just yet — Former MVPs and scoring champions Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have developed a mutual respect for each other on and off the court over the last few seasons. Would the two take to playing together in L.A.? While the prospect of that is a ways off and would hinge on Durant not re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Bryant addressed the notion of playing with KD in Lakerland yesterday. ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Baxter Holmes has more:

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant has openly praised Kobe Bryant, saying he’d love to play with the Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard.

And while Bryant said he hasn’t yet recruited Durant, who is set to become a free agent in 2016, Bryant didn’t rule out trying to lure last season’s MVP to the Lakers either.

“No, I think we know each other pretty well,” Bryant said Thursday at the Lakers’ practice facility here, leading into Friday’s game between the Thunder (12-13) and Lakers (8-17) at Staples Center.

“I don’t think it’s a discussion that you have in terms of coming here. But I think it’s more of an understanding how to play with each other.”

Said Bryant, “If the opportunity came up, then that’s the time to have that discussion.”

It’s no secret that the Lakers are among many teams that plan to pursue Durant when he hits free agency.

Bryant praised how much Durant has changed his game since joining the NBA.

“When he first came into the league, he was more of a perimeter player,” Bryant said. “He’s since evolved his game to now being a great post player, a great passer out of double teams, a great mid-range game. His evolution as a basketball player just keeps getting better and better.”

Bryant was asked if adding Durant — or any star — would entice him to extend his career beyond next season, when his two-year extension worth $48.5 million is set to expire.

“I don’t know. Maybe,” Bryant said. “But it’s really my call, man. If I want to play, I’ll play. If I don’t, I don’t. If I don’t want to play anymore and go through the process of getting my body ready day in and day out, I’m not going to play.”

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No. 2: Report: Trade talks for Stephenson fizzling — Yesterday, the NBA saw one star guard (the Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo) get moved from one team to another (in Rondo’s case, the Dallas Mavericks). Another name often in trade circles — Charlotte Hornets guard Lance Stephenson — may not be on the move just yet. According to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard and Ramona Shelburne, trade talks surrounding Stephenson haven’t gone anywhere so far:

Underwhelmed by the quality of trade offers they’ve received for Lance Stephenson, the Charlotte Hornets have decided to keep the volatile guard “for now,” according to league sources.

A stunningly poor start to the season, chemistry issues and Stephenson’s sub-par play had led the Hornets (6-19) to explore trade possibilities for their prized offseason acquisition just a few months after signing him to a three-year, $27 million deal.

But while sources say as many as seven teams registered interest, including Miami and Brooklyn, no offers intrigued Charlotte and several teams that called did not make trade proposals.

Another factor in the Hornets’ decision to keep Stephenson is their growing belief that a groin injury has hindered him all season and played a significant role in his lack of production. Stephenson is expected to miss the next two games because of the groin and did not travel to Philadelphia for Friday’s game against the 76ers.

The acquisition of Stephenson was expected to help the Hornets improve on last season’s solid 43-39 season. Coming off his best season, in which he averaged career-highs in points (13.8), rebounds (7.2) and assists (4.6), Stephenson was viewed by many as a potential All-Star.

But after less than two months of play in Charlotte, many league executives believe he is the reason the Hornets have floundered. Averaging just 10.2 points on 38.6 percent shooting, Stephenson has recently found himself on the bench during crunch time.

Sources say Stephenson’s free-wheeling style of play and often negative body language has hurt the team chemistry that made Charlotte one of the surprises of the Eastern Conference last season.

***

No. 3: Malone reflects on his days as Kings coach — You can definitely say this much for recently fired Sacramento Kings coach Michael Malone: he was a class act to the very end — and beyond. In an interview with Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, Malone had nothing but positives to say about his stay in California’s capital city and the opportunity to coach the Kings’ group of young talent:

Fired 24 games into his second season, Malone believes the Kings made great progress during his tenure.

“Though my time as head coach ended much sooner than anticipated, I am extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish during our time together,” Malone said. “Anchored by a loyal and dedicated coaching staff, we worked hard to instill a culture of discipline, trust and respect that progressed this team further than many expected in a short time.”

After winning only 28 games last season, the Kings were 11-13, including 2-7 without star center DeMarcus Cousins.

Ben McLemore has made strides in his second season, and Rudy Gay and Cousins are having the best seasons of their careers.

“The development of our players, both on and off the court, has given me the most joy,” Malone said. “Many of them have played the best basketball of their careers, and I am happy to be a small part of that.”

But that wasn’t enough for Malone to keep his job. General manager Pete D’Alessandro said Malone’s focus on defense conflicted with management’s desire for an up-tempo offense.

Though Malone was surprised that Sacramento’s 5-1 start and its 8-4 record with its regular starting five weren’t enough to keep his job, he said he was grateful for the chance to coach the Kings.

“I want to thank Vivek Ranadive for the opportunity and wish the franchise good fortune moving forward,” Malone said.

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was finalizing the Rajon Rondo trade while he was also participating in the finale of the “Colbert Report” … Speaking of Rondo, here’s a good, quick analysis of how he might fit in with the Mavs … Have the Houston Rockets fallen behind the Dallas Mavericks in the West hierarchy? … Golden State’s Draymond Green hears your criticisms of him, Jalen Rose and Avery Johnson … What is Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving like off the court? … Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is trying to tune out any MVP chatter

ICYMI OF THE NIGHT: Harrison Barnes tries to dunk on Serge Ibaka on the break. Harrison Barnes fails to dunk on Serge Ibaka on the break … 


VIDEO: Serge Ibaka swats away Harrison Barnes’ dunk attempt

17 Comments

  1. Bartholomew says:

    Anthony Davis is a b-a-l-l-e-r.

  2. Jean Carlos Acosta Amador says:

    I do not wanna be KD playing in LA. He should play in okc for + time or move to the DC and play for home… There are many fans of KD that do nor like Thunders or Wizards but most of the people that love KD hate the selfih way of playing of the Mamba

  3. Greg says:

    Kobe and Durant would not coexist. Sounds great out loud, but would probably be a train wreck.

  4. harriethehawk says:

    Kevin Durant is only going to play for the Wizards. If he leaves OKC. TBA.

  5. KD to LAKERS says:

    LOL….at the idiot that said “Certainly hope Kevin Durant doesn’t lower himself and destroy his credibility by joining the Lakers”. The Lakers have ALWAYS managed to get out of bad seasons, take for example what happened after The Showtime” era ended, we had a couple of bad seasons but then Kobe happened, after that Shaq happened, and the rest is history… 😉

  6. kobe/westbrook says:

    Starting Five:
    Jackson
    Kobe
    Durant
    Ibaka
    Stevens or whatever other center they have.

    A Dangerous Lineup……..

  7. kobe/westbrook says:

    just do a straight up trade between kobe and westbrook….. Lakers will have a superstar again for along time and okc can contend for a championship. Plus durant know how to play with a shoot first player because he played with westbrook…… Its a win win situation……

    • Browntown says:

      I highly doubt that Kobe is leaving the Lakers, ever. “Bleeds purple & gold” or so we’ve been told.

  8. Someone Else says:

    Certainly hope Kevin Durant doesn’t lower himself and destroy his credibility by joining the Lakers.

  9. kobeballhog says:

    Westbrook mvp? What a joke an ultimate ballhog like kobe in the making

    • KD!!! says:

      Kobe never averaged 7 asists like Westbrook.
      And if Westbrook brings us 5 championships like Kobe did I’ll be happy.
      Fans of other teams/casual fans lack respect for Westbrook because they can’t see what he brings or how he’s changed. But feel free to believe what you want without truth or evidence.

  10. BNick says:

    Hey….. Everyone say.. Anthony Davis to Lakers …. that’s the move, Davis is on his way to be the best big man in a long time. o other big man has put up those numbers in years… The Lakers are known for having some of the best big men… I think they need to add Davis to the list…. get him next year… Make the trade, Kobe give up some of the money, just make it happen.. Buy him a house… H*ll.. I don’t know. just make it happen

    • Browntown says:

      I think Davis will be a restricted free agent?? And something tells me the Pelicans will match ANY offer ,and.or throw the max deal at him. Why would he leave a young team on the rise in the West for one of the worst teams?? They are building a nice squad around him with plenty of pieces (Holiday, Evans, Anderson, Asik) The bright lights of Hollywood aren’t as appealing as they used to be. Who would you offer in a trade to New Orleans that is of the equivalent of Anthony Davis? I doubt they would accept Lin, Randle, and two future first rounders.. and if they did, who would be left on the Lakers squad for Davis to play with?? Bryant (for 1-2 years), Boozer and Jordan Hill??? Good luck with that. GO PELS

  11. lol says:

    lance will be traded to the celtics

    • That could work says:

      Stephenson could be a pretty good second prize for Celt’s with Rondo now history. If he can learn to pull his head in, and focus on playing smart, unselfish b’ball in Boston, he could go on to be another Celtic great.

  12. conrad says:

    Mike Malone took the high road. very professional.