Kobe Bryant wanted to join the Wizards more than a decade ago when Michael Jordan was with the team, Bryant acknowledged to Michael Lee of The Washington Post. While Jordan was playing with the Wizards, Bryant told him several times that he wanted to come to Washington, assuming that Jordan would again head basketball operations for the Wizards as he did before his comeback, sources tell Lee. Jordan was confident he would sign Bryant when he became a free agent in 2004, Lee hears, but the current Hornets owner never got that chance, since then-Wizards owner Abe Pollin decided against letting Jordan run the front office upon his final retirement from playing in 2003. The Wizards missed out on a star then, but they have their sights set on acquiring one a dozen years later, as we detail:
- It’s a long shot but more than a pipe dream that the Wizards would land Kevin Durant when he hits free agency in 2016, as TNT’s David Aldridge writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. A D.C. income tax loophole would allow Durant to save more than $700K per year in tax payments if he played for the Wizards instead of the Thunder, as Aldridge explains. However, the Thunder, who hold Durant’s Bird rights, can offer better annual salary raises than the Wizards or any other team can.
- J.R. Smith got over some initial mixed feelings about the trade that sent him from the Knicks to the Cavs and calls playing for Cleveland “the best situation for me as a person,” as he told Aldridge for the same piece. Smith has a player option worth nearly $6.4MM for next season.
- Trade candidate Brook Lopez would prefer to stay with the Nets, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports writes amid his weekly power rankings.
- Scouts, coaches and GMs at the D-League showcase were puzzled when the Sixers signed Larry Drew II, who had been playing for the Heat’s affiliate, to a 10-day contract earlier this month, as Gino Pilato of D-League Digest hears (Twitter links). Drew put up strong numbers, with 10.1 assists per game and 40.4% three-point shooting in 21 D-League appearances this year, but there were other, more intriguing prospects, Pilato believes. Drew signed his second 10-day deal with Philly earlier today.