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Western Notes: Bryant, Gates, Malone

With Kobe Bryant entering the final year of his current deal, the Lakers were hampered by the Mamba’s $25MM salary when trying to rebuild their roster this offseason, and as a result this season will be more of a farewell tour for the superstar than a run at a final title, Shaun Powell of writes in his season preview of the club. Powell also notes that while Bryant has a reputation as someone willing to do anything to win a championship, if that was indeed the case he would have pushed to join a contender for what could end up being his final NBA campaign. So instead, Powell opines that Bryant is willing to win, but only on his terms.

Here’s more out of the West:

  • Former Pelicans assistant coach Bryan Gates, who wasn’t retained when Monty Williams was fired, has been added to Flip Saunders‘ staff with the Timberwolves, Ken Berger of reports (Twitter link).
  • New Nuggets coach Michael Malone acknowledged that he was consulted by the team’s front office prior to troubled point guard Ty Lawson being traded to the Rockets, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post writes. “We’re a team. There’s no separation between church and state,” Malone said of his relationship with Denver’s front office. “We’re together, we’re one, we communicate, and I think that’s so important. But at the end of the day, Tim’s [Connelly] job as GM is to make those decisions, obviously with the blessing of [team president] Josh Kroenke. They asked my opinion, I gave it, I tell him what I feel and believe in, and then whatever decision they make I roll with it.
  • The Trail Blazers will have to take a committee approach to try and replace the rim protection that was lost when Robin Lopez departed for the Knicks in free agency this Summer, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes.

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