The Lakers' new game plan involves increasing Kobe Bryant's role on defense, having him guard opponents' top wing players. The approach was certainly effective last night, as the Lakers beat the Bucks by 16, and Brandon Jennings told reporters after the game that Kobe played "probably the best defense anybody's played on me since I've been in the league" (Twitter link via Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register). As the Lakers look to continue their winning ways on the court, here are the latest off-court notes on the club:
- Brook Lopez is now trade-eligible, which would suggest that trade rumors connecting Dwight Howard to the Nets may be renewed. However, Ian O'Connor of ESPNNewYork.com hears from a source close to Nets management that Brooklyn's interest in D12 may not be as strong as it once was: "It's not as cut and dried as it was last year, when the feeling was go ahead and pretty much gut the team for Dwight, give up a bunch of draft picks and players and take back bad contracts. That feeling isn't there anymore."
- Regardless of the Nets' interest or lack thereof, exploring trades involving Howard isn't even something that's on the table for the Lakers, says Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.
- The Lakers are leaning toward keeping Pau Gasol at the trade deadline in part because they're not 100% sure Howard will remain in L.A. long-term, and they don't want to risk losing both of their All-Star bigs in a matter of months, writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
- Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details on how Gasol and Steve Blake are recovering from their respective injuries.
- GM Mitch Kupchak confirmed to reporters, including Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, that the Lakers have requested a disabled player exception for Jordan Hill. Kupchak expects to hear back from the league within a week or so. I outlined on Monday what a DPE would mean for the team.