Posts Tagged ‘JA Adande’

Lakers Grind While Waiting On Kobe




VIDEO: Rick Fox sits down for an in-depth interview with Kobe Bryant

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant comeback playbook is written in pencil for a reason. For starters, no one knows for sure when Bryant, who returned to the practice floor in limited fashion over the weekend, will make his official return from the Achilles injury and surgery that ended his 2012-13 season prematurely.

The other variable in this situation is the work being done by Bryant’s healthy teammates. Guys like Steve BlakeXavier Henry, Jordan Hill, Jordan Farmar and Nick Young have had to carry the mantle for Bryant, Steve Nash and even Pau Gasol in early on this season. And they’ve done an admirable job, given the circumstances.

The Lakers are hovering near .500 after Sunday night’s win over the visiting Detroit Pistons. And with Bryant making his way back and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni getting more and more comfortable with his pieced-together bunch, a season-long fight for that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference is not totally out of the question for the Lakers.

Kobe told NBA TV’s Rick Fox that if he the playoffs were going on right now he’d be ready to play. That’s a bold statement for a guy who is reportedly just now cranking up his rehab work to the point that he can eye a legitimate timetable for his return. But bold is what we all expect from Kobe. How realistic his stance is, however, is certainly up for debate. Kobe has chosen wisely when pressed for a concrete return date.

“It’s tough because once I’ve set that as a target then I’m hell-bent at doing it at all costs, even to the detriment of the damn Achilles,” Kobe told Fox. “I try to just stay in the moment and really try to listen to my body. The biggest thing is I have not done anything athletically for six months, seven months. You got to get your body back in shape. And doing that, if I was healthy — completely healthy — you have that much time off and get back in shape and your knee is going to ache, your ankle is going to hurt, your back is going to be out. So you got to go through your progressions as you normally would over the course of a summer.”

What cannot be disputed is the Lakers’ relevance if and when Kobe returns to action. If he’s even a reasonable shell of the Kobe Bryant we’ve come to know over the past two decades, he’ll add an element to this team that allows them to compete with the any of the other fringe playoff-chasers in the West.

If he’s the Kobe Bryant we’re used to, then things should heat up considerably for L.A. when he returns. The supporting cast will have to adjust to having him back in the lineup and the entire focus changes with his reintroduction to the flow of this current group.

Unlike last season, when the Lakers struggled to come up with a clear-cut identity with Kobe, Nash, Gasol and Dwight Howard as headliners in D’Antoni’s system, there are no misconceptions about this team. They know exactly who and what they are, relative to what Lakers fans have been used to throughout the Kobe era. They are a blue-collar bunch that awaits the return of the ultimate competitor, a white-collar superstar whose always been a blue-collar worker at his core.

“The identity is going to be: We have to play full-out for 48 minutes,” DAntoni told ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande when asked about the adjustments that will have to be made by all upon Kobe’s return. “And then Kobe comes back and now the identity changes, so we’re OK.”

Everything changes when Kobe comes back.

In the meantime, the blue-collar Lakers have to continue to keep grinding …

Labor Talks: 72-Game Season Or Bust

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The choice seems rather simple from here, it’s either the 72-game season or bust. Take the deal and start the season in roughly a month or blow it all up.

And this time, it’s all on the players.

They asked for the owners to move a bit, show a little flexibility and come off that ultimatum talk that freaked everybody out earlier this week. Well, you got what you asked for and the proposal is in your hands (for review by the player reps from each team by Monday or Tuesday at the latest).

If time is what the union needs, that is what they will get with the weekend. Look it over, soak it in, chew on the details and think long and hard about what you do next, because if we’re this close to seeing the 2011-12 season and it somehow slips away between now and early next week … there will be no mercy from the masses.

NBA Commissioner David Stern made it clear late last night that there will be no better offer from the owners. This is it. Best offer on the table. Take it or leave it.

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Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated: On the 133rd day of the lockout, commissioner David Stern called the players’ bluff: Are you going to accept the new era for the NBA, or are you going to decertify? It is now time for everyone at the table to show his cards. Players finished 23 collective hours of negotiation Thursday with a final offer from the owners that Stern hoped would end the lockout with minimal damage to the season. On Monday or Tuesday, the union representatives from all 30 teams will meet to decide whether they should put this offer to the entire membership for a vote. Should the players accept, Stern said they will be able to salvage a 72-game season starting Dec. 15, with the playoffs and the NBA Finals starting one week later than normal. The final offer comes amid a swelling movement among the players to pursue decertification. They had been hoping to force the owners to compromise in negotiations by threatening to take the union’s case to court. Union executive director Billy Hunter acknowledged this week that as many as 200 players were prepared to sign a petition that would send the union down a path of 45 days or longer to potential decertification. Now the players face a hard choice of gambling on the courts and the uncertain bargaining leverage of decertifying, or instead embracing the certainty of a proposal that Stern insists is the best deal they’ll ever see. Union president Derek Fisher declined to assess the quality of the offer, other than to acknowledge it wasn’t good enough to earn his outright approval. Hunter said he was going to leave it up to the player representatives. “It’s not the greatest proposal in the world, but I have an obligation to at least present it to our membership,” said Hunter. “So that’s what we’re going to do.”

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In The Aftermath Of Doomsday …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The frayed emotions and exhausted looks on the faces of basketball lovers worldwide should be impossible to hide this morning.

Now that the doomsday fears have been realized, and the first two weeks of the NBA’s regular season have been canceled, we’re all left with the uneasy feeling of what faces the chopping block next as the lockout digs deeper into the fall.

We can dispense with all of the pleasantries now and get down to brass tacks. Forget about when the season starts. Most fans are wondering this morning if there will be a season. The unthinkable a few weeks ago has become our new reality …

Something To Salvage?

Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated: Can the season be saved? The answer is yes, so long as the NBA owners are willing to negotiate into January, as they did to resolve their previous lockout in 1999.

Understand that two weeks of NBA games have been wiped away, and that more cancellations are to come. Nothing important is likely to change over the next two weeks that will enable basketball to be played in late November or early December.

On and on it will go, with both sides looking back to the salvation of the ’99 lockout. That resolution a dozen years ago may have influenced these extended talks that failed Monday night in New York. As much anxiety as both sides were feeling to reach an agreement this week, they weren’t experiencing the ultimate pressure that will be felt later this winter when the entire season is at risk. “The problem,” said a former league official who was involved in the negotiations that shortened the 1998-99 season to 50 games, “is that people tend to look at early January as the drop-dead date.”

He was worrying that the absolute final offer from either side may not emerge for another 12 weeks. Not until the final days of this calendar year will the owners fully understand the consequences of losing a full season during a recession, while more than 400 players find themselves confronted with the likelihood of a full year without an NBA paycheck.

In many ways these entire negotiations have gone according to form. It is not the formula anyone would have desired, but it has been entirely predictable. The owners lock out the players July 1, with little negotiating done for most of July and August, followed by sudden urgency to make a deal that can save the full season.

Lost Games Part Of The Plan?

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: On the sidewalk out on 63rd Street, sirens wailing and knucklehead cameramen jostling for position and cursing each other, here was Billy Hunter living in his own movie. Regular-season games lost on his watch, and on David Stern‘s, just as they’d discussed two years ago.

“It goes back to a comment that David said to me several years ago, when he said this is what my owners have to have,” Hunter said Monday night, after the first two weeks of the 2011-12 NBA regular season were canceled. “And I said, ‘Well, the only way you’re going to get that is, you prepare to lock us out for a year or two.’ And he’s indicated to me that they’re willing to do it. So my belief and contention is that everything that he’s done has demonstrated that he’s following that script.”

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