Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Times’

Report: Kobe Leaves Country For Undisclosed Procedure





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – As if Los Angeles Lakers fans around the world weren’t nervous enough, now comes word, per The Los Angeles Times, that Kobe Bryant has left the country for an undisclosed medical procedure and will return in a few days.

In the absence of details, which at this time are sketchy at best, people will be left to their own imaginations to figure out what is going on. But the good news for Bryant and the Lakers is that whatever the procedure is, it has nothing to do with the Achilles injury he is recovering from.

For this news to drop a day after Bryant was on the court shooting at training camp makes you wonder what exactly is going on. Is it his knee again? Or the ankle? Did he head to Germany for another Orthokine procedure that he’s had done on both the knee and ankle in the past?

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni told The Times that the procedure is “no big deal,” and that since Bryant wasn’t close to seeing full action in camp that his absence doesn’t disrupt anything:

“He knew he had time because he’s not getting on the court yet,” D’Antoni said Thursday. “I don’t think it caught anybody by surprise. Instead of doing it in August, he’s doing it now. There’s no concern whatsoever.”

D’Antoni’s words will reassure some. But with the Derrick Rose injury saga from last season fresh on people’s minds, not to mention the news from earlier in the week about the second surgery Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook needed for the torn meniscus in his right knee (which will keep him out of action for 4-to-6 weeks), a little nervousness is warranted.

The Lakers don’t have any room for error this season. Getting Kobe back sooner rather than later, and Kobe playing like nothing ever happened, was surely the hope. Now comes this mysterious departure from training camp for what D’Antoni insisted was a “planned” procedure, will no doubt raise eyebrows around the league.

It should.

Injury news in recent years, particularly to some of the game’s biggest stars, has tended to come with some crushing results for those involved.

But until we get more details, all we can do is take D’Antoni at his word and assume that Kobe’s off for some routine maintenance on a 35-year-old body with tons of mileage on its engine.

Report: Griffin Agrees To Extension With Clippers, Paul Plays Waiting Game





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Los Angeles Clippers didn’t waste any time handling their business when the free agency floodgates opened at midnight.

They offered extensions to both of their All-Stars, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, getting an agreement from Griffin on a five-year extension worth up $95 million while Paul declined to accept his three-year, $60 million offer, per The Los Angeles Times:

Griffin, who is locked up for the next six years, will earn $7.2 million next season.

Paul, who will earn $17.7 million next season, is in the last year of his contract. He is waiting to sign an extension after next season, which is a better financial decision, said a source close to the point guard.

Paul can sign a five-year, $108-million extension with the Clippers in July 2013.

Contracts can be agreed upon but cannot be signed until July 11.

Mo Williams In The Zone!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – He could have turned the locker room upside down, made a mess of the team’s chemistry and pouted his way out of town if he wanted to.

All of those options were available to Clippers guard Mo Williams when the Chris Paul trade went down. It soon became clear that his time as the Clippers’ starting point guard would be limited to the 22 games he got last season and whatever injury replacement starts he might get with Paul in the fold this season.

To his credit, Williams, who arrived in L.A. via a deadline-day trade with Cleveland last season, has done exactly what he’s always done: put his head down and go to work without so much as a shoulder shrug while handling himself like a true pro.

He’s been on a tear of late, averaging 22.2 points on 56 percent shooting from the floor and an outlandish 54 percent from beyond the 3-point line in the Clippers’ last five games. He’s scored 26, 25, 26, 16 and 18 points in those five games, the first three when the Clippers had to play without Paul (strained hamstring).

Keep this up and he’ll make the voting for the Sixth Man Award an all Williams affair. Philadelphia’s Lou Williams is our early frontrunner here at the hideout.

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Bynum’s Return Just In Time For Lakers

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – That offseason work with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach should come in handy for Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who will be the last player to experience the changes made to the team’s system by new coach Mike Brown.

With his body fat down to 5.1% from 9.5% and his 290-pound frame still intact, Brown will demand much more on both ends of the floor from his low-post anchor. Of course, the Lakers won’t get to unwrap their belated Christmas gift until this afternoon, when they unleash a new and improved Bynum on the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center.

Bynum began this season serving the four-game suspension handed down after his take down of then Mavericks guard J.J. Barea during the Lakers’ final game last season, the fourth and final game of an ugly sweep at the hands of the eventual NBA champion Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals.

So even with all of this proposed changes to Bynum’s body and the system, he won’t be able to answer any lingering questions about what he might be capable of until today.

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Wall: Time For Stars To Step Up?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Wizards guard John Wall is still in the formative stages of his NBA career, but he’s clearly not afraid to speak his mind.

Ask him for his opinion on something as sensitive as the ongoing labor dispute between NBA players and owners and he’ll tell you exactly what he thinks needs to happen. At least that’s what he did over the weekend, per the Washington Post. And in his estimation, it’s going to take more of a push from the league’s biggest stars for something to change:

“I think we’re going to have to have guys like Kobe [Bryant], LeBron [James], the face of the NBA, to step up and say something,” said Wall, who was in Las Vegas this week when National Basketball Players Association President Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter updated the players on the labor impasse. “Derek Fisher and those guys are doing a great job, but I just want it to be over. I can’t really say too much. I only have one year under my belt. . . . I just want to sit back, learn and listen and see what’s going on during the meetings.”

Does Wall have a point? Should the game’s biggest names be more vocal and have a greater presence in order to get something done? We’ll get back to that in a minute, because Hunter insists that they have already done so.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times Hunter insists that not only are they involved, the union is unified and prepared for whatever the process throws at them in the coming weeks:

What role will NBA superstars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James play as this moves forward?

“They’ve been deeply involved in the meetings we’ve had. I know Kobe is intimately involved in interfacing with colleagues and sharing in a pool of revenue to help the others get through this. Kobe has volunteered to do that in the event others need, he and others are prepared to loan money if necessary.”

In fairness, Wall was talking about those high-profile players playing a larger part in some sort of solution to the labor issue and not just helping fellow players through whatever tough times, relatively speaking of course, that arise during the lockout.

So what say you? Should we hear and see more of guys like Kobe and LeBron in the future?

Innovative Therapy For Bryant’s Knee

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Kobe Bryant has opted for an innovative assist to relive pain in his oft-injured right knee, per a report from the Mike Bersnahan and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

Bryant had the procedure done a month ago in Germany, according to the Times:

The treatment is a derivation of platelet-rich plasma therapy. PRP procedures are less invasive than many surgeries involving the knee and are viewed as either an emerging solution to knee problems or a financial gamble on unproven science.

Bryant, who turns 33 next month, has been bothered in recent seasons by an arthritic joint in his right knee. He has undergone three other knee procedures since 2003, including surgery last July to remove unspecified loose bodies.

He sat out an overwhelming majority of the Lakers’ practices this past season and saw his scoring, shooting percentage and minutes decrease in his 15th NBA season. He has three years and $83.5 million left on his contract with the Lakers.

A report by ESPNLosAngeles.com cited several other notable professional athletes as having undergone the same procedure, including Tiger Woods, New York Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee. There was a much more descriptive definition of the procedure.

Agent: Artest Not Headed To Finland

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We had a feeling the rumors about Ron Artest agreeing to play in Finland in the event of an NBA lockout seemed just a tad bit suspicious, since Artest didn’t announce it himself via Twitter (where the name Metta World Peace has already been incorporated).

Artest’s agent, David Bauman, confirmed those suspicions to the Los Angeles Times, calling the entire affair a “publicity stunt,” among other things:

“I’m his agent and nothing has come across my desk,” Bauman said. “Although Ron has asked me to explore all options over in Europe in the event of a prolonged lockout, there are several legal and business considerations that have to be addressed. The biggest one involves insurance. None of those have been addressed and I don’t even know who this guy claiming to have an agreement is. Final thing is what if the league has a lockout for say two weeks and then end up getting a deal. It becomes a moot point.”

Artest currently has a three-year, $21-million contract remaining with the Lakers, making the possibility to play overseas during a possible lockout even more difficult. NBA Commissioner David Stern has publicly maintained players are free to play overseas during a possible lockout, but International Basketball Federation rules require teams to honor contracts signed in other leagues.

“The whole notion strikes me as a publicity stunt,” Bauman said. “Nothing has come across my desk. Ron has asked me to look into options in Europe, but certainly not with a small team in Finland.”

Glad we got that cleared up!

Lakers Preparing For The Brown Era?

DALLAS – So it begins, the Mike Brown era in Los Angeles.

Well, almost. The deal hasn’t been finalized just yet. But from all indications, the former Cavaliers coach is set to replace Phil Jackson as coach of the Lakers.

Of all the names tossed out for that job, Brown’s came seemingly from out of nowhere. Rick Adelman was rumored to be the front-runner early on and there was always the Brian Shaw option.

But it appears, as Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports, that Brown is the choice:

The Lakers have put together a deal to hire former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown as their new coach, an NBA official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said late Tuesday.

If Brown agrees to the deal, he’ll sign a contract worth between $4 million and $4.5 million per season, the official said. Brown would sign for three years, with a team option on the fourth season that would give him partial pay if he was not retained.

Brown, 41, became the front-runner because Jim Buss, the team’s executive vice president of player personnel, was impressed with his defense-minded style.

Brown doesn’t seem like the Hollywood hire that the Lakers would have needed to fill the void left by Jackson. But who would have been?

As far as his credentials, Brown is as strong a candidate as anyone on the list. In five seasons with the Cavaliers, Brown compiled a 272-138 record,  leading LeBron James and crew to the top of the Eastern Conference heap. Twice during Brown’s tenure the Cavaliers piled up the best record in the league. Brown was NBA Coach of the Year in 2009 and led the Cavs to the NBA Finals in 2007, when they were swept by the Spurs.

But the real test for Brown — and to a larger extent for the man behind the move, Buss — is how Brown resonates with Lakers Nation.

Only time will tell.

Lakers Eyeing The Replacements

DALLAS – One by one the Los Angeles Lakers sat before us earlier this week, and to a man professed their allegiance (in so many words) to Brian Shaw as the obvious and reasonable replacement for Phil Jackson.

Everyone from Kobe Bryant to Luke Walton made it clear that they would like Shaw as their next coach. Yet his is just one name that has popped up on the early (and unofficial) list of replacements for the legendary Jackson, whose 11 NBA titles present humongous shoes to fill for any coach.

In addition to Shaw, names like Rick Adelman and Jeff Van Gundy  (per ESPNLosAngeles.com) and Mike Dunleavy (Los Angeles Times) are on the early short list.

I’m with the Lakers’ players. Shaw seems like the obvious choice to us here at HT, and apparently to the folks in Golden State as well, considering they’ve received permission to speak with him about their opening.

Forgive me for not being terribly excited about those retreads, but has anyone noticed that new-school coaches like Tom Thibodeau and Erik Spoelstra, and either Scott Brooks or Lionel Hollins will be coaching teams in the NBA’s version of the Final Four?

Shaw would seem to be cut from that same mold. In addition, Shaw played on three of the Lakers’ championship teams in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and was an assistant coach on the 2009 and 2010 championship teams. (more…)

The Other Main Event

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With so much attention in this conference semifinal round of the playoffs on the Celtics and Heat, we’d be remiss in our duties as purveyors of all things NBA basketball if we didn’t try to at least shine a light on another showdown with global implications.

Mavericks All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and his Lakers counterpart Pau Gasol are set to wage an international battle at power forward that should serve as a dream matchup for basketball lovers all over the world.

It’s a dealer’s choice of a matchup in that both Nowitzki and Gasol might very well set the parameters of this series. Kobe Bryant‘s always first and foremost in any series the Lakers are involved in, but this time the featured matchup is no doubt this battle of the NBA’s two most accomplished Europeans superstars.

Even Bryant recognizes as much, as he did to The Los Angeles Times when detailing the challenges both players will face in dealing with each other:

“It’s a big challenge for Pau,” Bryant said. “It’s different than guarding anybody else that he’s played. Dirk can post up, can face up, can handle and obviously he shoots the three ball. It’s a big challenge defensively.

“But it’s a challenge for Dirk down at the other end as well. You’re not going to find another guy in the league like Pau that can shoot with both hands, and post up and face up as well. It’s a very interesting matchup.”

Interesting doesn’t do this matchup justice.

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