The Star Tribune transcribed TNT analyst Charles Barkley’s recent input on Inside the NBA regarding when Kobe Bryant should return from his injury. “It’s not going to matter, [the Lakers] are going to stink with him or without him, it really doesn’t make a difference. They are not a good team, they are not going to be a good team. If he is thinking about the future and he wants to win another championship, they should try to get a great draft pick. He should get healthy for the rest of the season. I think he will make a big mistake coming back.”
Some other notes around the Western Conference.
- With the Lakers losing 15 of their last 18 games, it came as a bit of a surprise to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin when Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak expressed “unbridled optimism” regarding his current roster. Kupchak thinks it is possible for the Lakers to be fun to watch if “they play hard and compete” but McMenamin disagrees and details why there is “no joy in Laker land these days”. McMenamin thinks it is time the Lakers realize their limitations and make personnel changes instead of sending their players out to continue to promise change in play soon.
- Another team being urged to realize their limitations is the Timberwolves. Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune takes a critical look at what Kevin Love has brought to Minnesota. Love has achieved much individually while on the Wolves, but Souhan points out the team has never won more than 31 games since Love has arrived. Love isn’t all to blame, according to Souhan. Front office moves, aside from trading for Love on draft night, have been less than stellar. However, Souhan wonders when the Wolves front office will decide if Love is a player Minnesota can win with, as a team. They already know they can’t win without him, but Love needs to prove “he can carry a flawed team” soon.
- If it weren’t for Pacers coach Frank Vogel returning a favor, the Nuggets may not have Brian Shaw as current head coach. According to Aaron Lopez of Nuggets.com, after changes to the 76ers coaching staff, Vogel was without a job and Shaw encouraged the Lakers to hire Vogel as a scout. Six years later, Vogel intercepted Shaw en route to interview for an analyst job and convinced Shaw he was more coach than analyst. Shaw never completed his trip to interview with ESPN, and after two seasons in Indiana was hired by the Nuggets as their head coach.
- Rockets head coach Kevin McHale told Jenny Creech of the Houston Chronicle he is happy with how recently traded guard Courtney Lee is fitting in with the Grizzlies. Lee has averaged 15.3 PPG in the nine games he has played for Memphis since being sent there from the Celtics in a three team deal earlier this month. McHale praised Lee as one of his favorite players who will play better as his role becomes more defined. According to McHale, Lee “will fit in nice” with the role Memphis has placed him in since arriving. Lee played one season under McHale on the Rockets.