Even during a year when neither team has lived up to preseason expectations, a matchup between the Lakers and Celtics is worth circling on the calendar. The contest in Boston tonight is particularly intriguing, given the injury woes that have beset both clubs recently. Despite being shorthanded, the Lakers and C's have been two of the league's hottest teams, with the latter riding a five-game winning streak and the former having won six of seven. As we wait to see which team cools off tonight, let's check in on a few items out of Los Angeles….
- Kobe Bryant tells Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com that he feels like Dwight Howard is too preoccupied with how he's perceived by fans and media. "He just wants people to like him," Bryant said. "He doesn't want to let anyone down, and that gets him away from what he should be doing."
- In detailing how the CBA's increasing tax penalties will affect NBA teams next season and beyond, Sam Amick of USA Today notes that few teams will be hit harder than the Lakers. If the club signs Howard to a max deal, it will have about $100MM committed to just nine players for next season, which would result in over $70MM in tax payments. As such, it's no surprise that a player like Pau Gasol, who is earning $19MM+ next season, has an uncertain future in L.A.
- Despite having a partially guaranteed contract for next year, Grant Hill strongly hinted that he's likely to retire after this season, according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel.
- Earlier this morning, we heard from Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld that the Lakers are in no rush to add a free agent following Gasol's foot injury.